Melbourne Victory twice fought from a goal to keep a Bruno Fornaroli-inspired Melbourne City to a pulsating 2-2 draw at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
Fornaroli handed City the lead on two occasions in a frenetic first half-hour before Victory roared back after half-time to level matters through Finkler, who was later harshly denied the winner.
Fahid Ben Khalfallah earlier levelled matters for Kevin Muscat’s side in a match full of drama.
1-0 Bruno Fornaroli (22’) – The first of two incredible team moves. This though was almost all about Fornaroli as he beat three players on halfway and made an outrageous rabona pass before staying active in the attack to get on the end of Aaron Mooy’s pass and delicately dink over Danny Vukovic.
1-1 Fahid Ben Khalfallah (28’) – After a Besart Berisha twice intervened at a City corner, Victory launched a rapid counter-attack through Gui Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses. Though the latter’s one-one-one attempt was smothered by Thomas Sorensen, Ben Khalfallah followed-up and curled home a delicate lob from outside the area.
2-1 Bruno Fornaroli (31’) – Just moments after being pegged back, City’s key pair combined to restore their side’s advantage from a routine set-piece. Aaron Mooy floated three free-kick into the penalty area for Fornaroli to lose three Victory markers and nod into the bottom corner.
2-2 Gui Finkler (47’) – Quite a departure from the impressive construction of the three which preceded it. Patrick Kisnorbo’s half-hearted corner clearance was mis-kicked back into the box by Bozanic, where the Brazilian’s accidentally-shouldered finish confused him as much as anyone.
The assistant referee’s decision not to award Gui Finkler’s 52nd minute free-kick as a goal will have almost disappointed neutrals as much as Melbourne Victory fans.
As if only to reaffirm his penchant for the spectacular – having just equalised in comically unscripted fashion – Finkler crashed an attempt against the underside of the bar and evidently over the line.
The moment will still make it into highlight packages, but only because Victory were denied what might have been the match-winning goal.
Victory’s quickfire equaliser was stunning, but Bruno Fornaroli’s opener contained marginally more magic. It showed all assets of the star import’s enviable skill-set.
Fornaroli turned Leigh Broxham, fought through Jason Geria and bamboozled Nick Ansell with a rabona all on halfway, before steaming forward to sumptuously dink Aaron Mooy’s cute reverse pass over Danny Vukovic.
City had managed to stem the onslaught that was Victory’s start to the second-half when Anthony Caceres received his second red card in the space of a fortnight.
The nominal hosts might well have pushed for a winner of their own after keeping the damage of that spell to a lone goal, but Caceres’ decision to chop down Matthieu Delpierre scuppered those chances.
THE FINAL WORD
Both sides could lay fair claims over their status as worthy winners of an electric, dramatic and spicy Melbourne Derby.
Bruno Fornaroli’s 16th and 17th goals of the season led City to within sight of a crucial victory, but they never appeared certain to keep their bitter rivals from securing a point.
The result keeps the two sides level points and seven adrift of leaders Brisbane Roar, with both remaining in Melbourne for next weekend’s fixtures.