Victory hit Kruse control to power past Jets
Robbie Kruse stole the show as Melbourne Victory earned back-to-back wins for the first time this season by hammering Newcastle Jets, 4-0.
In the absence of suspended captain Ola Toivonen, Kruse played through the middle and ensured Victory did not miss their top goalscorer when he showed his lightning quick pace to fire the hosts ahead after just nine minutes.
Kruse turned on the style when his 61st-minute effort was parried in the path of Migjen Basha, as the Swiss-born Albanian international scored his first Hyundai A-League goal, before Kruse provided the service for fellow Socceroo Andrew Nabbout to net against his former club three minutes later.
Victory ran rampant in the second half with Matt Millar’s late own goal adding the exclamation mark as the hosts moved up to the brink of the top six, level on points with sixth-placed Adelaide United and behind only on goal difference.
Marco Kurz was forced to shuffle his defence after it was announced German import Tim Hoogland will miss three-to-four weeks after undergoing foot surgery, but that did not faze a side rejuvenated from their Melbourne Derby triumph last time out.
While the Navy Blue showed signs of turning a corner, their current tally of 15 points is still the joint lowest in club history after 12 matches, while their opponents – with whom they contested a Grand Final against only 19 months ago – remain stranded at the foot of the ladder on nine points from 11 games.
Club stalwart Leigh Broxham had shifted to centre-back to replace the injured Hoogland and the veteran almost opened the scoring inside two minutes when his back header from Jakob Poulsen’s delivery soared over Moss’ crossbar.
Kruse should have made the breakthrough on seven minutes but scuffed his six-yard shot from Elvis Kamsoba’s pacey run and cut back, but he made amends by collecting Broxham’s searching pass, outpacing Lachie Jackson and finishing low past Moss two minutes later.
The visitors responded immediately as Poulsen almost turned Pat Longlois’ cross into his own net before Jason Hoffman fluffed his lines on a free header, before Andrew Nabbout gave his former club a reminder of his threat, lifting a pair of fierce strikes off target in the lead in to half-time.
Ernie Merrick’s side came out firing after the interval and Dimitri Petratos made Lawrence Thomas stretch to save on 50 minutes. It turned back and forth as Nabbout squandered a gilt-edge header and Hoffman drilled a low shot at the Victory keeper at the other end.
But Victory found their stride as Kruse’s vicious drive was spilled by Moss and Basha, celebrating his 33rd birthday, was on hand to add a simple finish. Then Nabbout joined the party on 64 minutes, slamming in a close-range drive from Kruse’s cut-back as the Newcastle old boy refrained from celebrating against his ex-employers.
A relentless Kruse continued to dominate the closing stages, almost setting up substitute Kenny Athiu for a fourth, before the star of the show fed Anthony Lesiotis on the overlap and the right-back fired a cross in off the shins of Millar to add the exclamation mark for Kurz’s re-energised side.
Kruse uses his pace and makes no mistake
Robbie Kruse had spurned a great chance from close range moments earlier but he delivered a clinical finished in the ninth minute.
The Socceroos winger, being deployed as a central striker in this match, peeled off his marker Lachie Jackson and raced on to Leigh Broxham’s long, driven pass.
There was only one winner in a foot race and Kruse topped it off with a composed finish to net his second Hyundai A-League goal of the season.
Jets almost respond off Poulsen's outstretched knee
Going a goal down did not deter Ernie Merrick's side and the Jets came flying forward in response.
Steve Ugarkovic raided down the Victory's right side and flashed a delivery across the hosts goal.
Jakob Poulsen tried to hook it clear but the ball skewed off the Dane's boot and whistled past the safe side of goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas' post.
Birthday party starts early
It had had been an end-to-end start to the second half but Victory made their chance count and Migjen Basha was left celebrating.
The birthday boy was in the right place at the right time after Moss could only half parry away Kruse's fizzing strike from distance.
Basha reacted quickest to slam in the rebound and kick off the celebrations on his 33rd birthday.
Nabbout holds back on celebrating against former club
No sooner had Kruse forced a second goal, he turned provider once again to set up Andrew Nabbout to score against his old employers.
Nabbout was prolific in Jets colours, scoring 45 Hyundai A-League goals across two seasons, but he did not hesitate to drill in from close range after smart footwork from the impressive Kruse.
There was no celebration from Nabbout in respect to his former club, but the rest of his Victory teammates toasted a job well done as the hosts went 3-0 up as the clock ticked past the hour mark.
Miserable end for Millar
With Newcastle tiring and Melbourne still seeking another goal, a lapse in concentration from Matt Millar made it a rough day at the office for the Jets right-back.
Kruse was again involved, playing in Anthony Lesiotis on the overlap and the right-back hammered a low, driven cross into the visitors area.
Millar tried to divert the ball away from goal but got his angles wrong, sending it sliding past Moss into the Jets net and Victory had wrapped up the 4-0 win.
Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC
Friday, 10 January 2020
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick off: 7.30pm AEDT
Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne Victory
Sunday, 12 January 2020
Central Coast Stadium
Kick-off: 6pm AEDT