Clinical Victory blasts past Phoenix

Melbourne has notched its first win of the Hyundai A-League season, prevailing 4-2 in a six-goal thriller against Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

Melbourne has notched its first win of the Hyundai A-League season, prevailing 4-2 in a six-goal thriller against Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

In a game which was a complete contrast to the Pre-Season Cup final played between the two sides just over two weeks ago, Melbourne led 2-1 at half-time thanks to two Danny Allsopp goals, while Wellington was still in the contest thanks to Shane Smeltz's effort on the half-hour.

Ney Fabiano made it 3-1 shortly after the break, before a penalty which Smeltz converted made it 3-2 with 25 minutes to play. But one minute later, Melbourne got a spot kick of its own, which Kevin Muscat out away to seal a 4-2 win.

Both sides had set-piece opportunities through the opening third of the match, but it wasn't until the 13th minute that either side threatened goal. Michael Ferrante and Daniel combined well to give Troy Hearfield time and space at the top of the box, but his effort was cleared.

However, despite the early Phoenix pressure it was the visiting side which broke the deadlock just a few minutes later. The impressive Allsopp turned Manny Muscat inside out on the left hand side of the box and struck a low drive that squeezed under Glenn Moss' body on 16 minutes to take the score to 1-0.

It took just two minutes for Allsopp to threaten the goals again. He managed to beat Moss for a second time with a deft chip, with only a frantic but acrobatic header from Michael Ferrante preventing the ball from ending up in the net. Billy Celeski then steamed in for the visitors and disappointingly headed the ball over from six yards out, with only a Phoenix defender between him and the goal.

Some neat play from the home side enabled them to level the scores. A raking ball from the back from Jon McKain opened up Tony Lochhead in space down the left. His beautifully weighted cross from the byline found Smeltz, whose powerful header thundered past Mitchell Langerak.

The goal spurred the Victory back into action, and five minutes later they regained their lead. A loose pass by Smeltz inside his own half was gratefully accepted by Matthew Kemp, who slid an excellent through-ball past the Phoenix defence to give Allsopp his third one-on-one of the match with Moss. He made no mistake as he clipped the ball over the rushing keeper.

Melbourne started the second period as it finished the first and extended its lead just one minute into the half. Allsopp was again the catalyst after he was picked out by a clever ball from Celeski down the right hand side. His cross found the Phoenix defence all at sea, and was met with an acrobatic effort from Fabiano who managed to swivel and fire the ball home in one slick movement.

Wellington substitute Vaughan Coveny's first touch almost led to a goal, with his header flashing past the far post from the Hearfield free kick. Just a minute later the home side produced something akin to a blooper reel when Smeltz's shot was blocked by Kevin Muscat on the edge of the box. The deflection looped over the remaining defenders and hit the crossbar, which saw the subsequent deflection hit the flapping Langerak and dribble out for a corner.

The next play led to another goal, with the first of two penalties. McKain was fouled inside the Melbourne area by Kemp and Smeltz made no mistake from the spot.

The Phoenix must have felt they had a chance after bringing the score back to 3-2, but Melbourne was on the receiving end of a penalty decision just three minutes later as McKain turned from hero to villain. His badly timed challenge on Hernandez gave Victory skipper Kevin Muscat the chance to take the score to 4-2, which he duly converted in the 65th minute.

Wellington Phoenix 2 (Smeltz 29, 64p) Melbourne Victory 4 (Allsopp 16, 36, Ney Fabiano 47, Muscat 65p)

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