Victory 5-4 Wanderers: chaos reigns as Victory edge nine-goal thriller
It wasn't easy, and it wasn't pretty, but Melbourne Victory beckoned in a new era under interim boss Steve Kean with an unforgettable 5-4 win over Western Sydney Wanderers at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.
Victory led 5-1 in the second half before the Wanderers reduced the gap from four goals to one leading into added time, but couldn't convert from a pair of promising opportunities in the final knockings to steal a share of the points.
Ben Folami scored a brace in a lively first-half showing for the home side, converting on either side of goals to Storm Roux and Wanderers midfielder James Troisi to hand Victory a 3-1 lead heading into the break.
A see-sawing second 45 ensued, with Victory defender Dylan Ryan opening the gap to three goals with a headed goal from a corner routine given to the home side after Daniel Margush saved a penalty struck by Jake Brimmer in the 62nd minute of play.
Ten minutes later the margin was four after Jacob Butterfield lashed a left-footed strike from well outside the box past Margush to make it 5-1 - the attempt was hit with venom and precision as the ball ducked and weaved through the air on its way toward the back of the net.
All that was left for Victory to do was to see out the final 15 minutes of play to wrap up a commanding home win. But as we've seen to date this season, things don't come that easy for the side in Navy Blue.
Graham Dorrans pegged one back from the penalty spot after Robbie Kruse's handball in the box. Mitchell Duke then headed his side back into contention, before Nicolai Müller emerged from the bench to drill a shot from outside the box into the top-right corner of goal.
Suddenly the score was 5-4, setting up a nerve-jangling finish for the home side. Bruce Kamau found himself in a dangerous position to shoot in the 94th-minute of play, but his strike flew high over the bar. The Victory players and fans alike took a deep, relieving sigh as the final whistle blew, handing Kean and his charges a hard-earned win in the first game of the club's newest chapter.
A four-goal opening half kick-started an entertaining contest between two sides down on form and confidence heading into Matchweek 18.
The Wanderers started brightly before Folami opened the scoring on 14 minutes, volleying home from close range after Callum McManaman played Kruse into the box to float a cross toward Folami at the back post to finish.
Down a goal and chasing the game, the Wanderers looked to fire home an instant reply. Bernie Ibini went close, but rattled the crossbar with an attempt from distance which ensured the home side maintained their slender advantage.
The score remained at 1-0 until the 27th minute when Victory scored a second with ease, benefiting from a lethargic Wanderers defence from a corner situation.
Brimmer fired the ball into the box from the corner, inviting runners to meet the delivery hit viciously toward the six-yard box. Victory full-back Roux lost his marker as he drove toward the drop zone, heading home from close-range without a Wanderers defender in sight to give his side a two-goal lead.
But Victory's advantage would be cut in half just minutes after the Roux goal, when Troisi popped up in the box to net against his former side.
With 30 minutes on the clock, the visiting side charged forward through the ever-dangerous Kamau operating down the right wing. Kamau played a neat one-two with Mitchell Duke before darting toward the edge of the box and cutting the ball along the deck into dangerous space.
Leigh Broxham couldn't clear, which allowed Troisi to arrive to smash the ball off the crossbar and over the line.
Folami looked a genuine threat throughout the entirety of the first-half, and the Victory loanee ended the opening 45 with a brace to put the home side 3-1 up at the break.
Once again it was a sleeping Wanderers defence opening up the chance for Victory to score from a corner, with Brimmer providing another assist from the dead-ball situation.
Folami attacked the out-swinging delivery, marked by a slipping Ziggy Gordon. The space opened up for Folami who volleyed his attempt toward goal, sneaking the ball past the right-hand goalpost.
The Wanderers began the second half with intent, crafting a series of half-chances in the six-yard box which were safely dealt with by the Victory defence. Gordon rose to meet a Troisi corner which was saved by Acton, before Victory right-back Brandon Lauton combined with his 'keeper as the pair kept two quick-fire chances to Kamau out of danger.
Folami's energetic display continued after the break. The winger won his side a penalty just beyond the hour mark after a daring run which took Folami past Gordan and Dylan McGowan and into the box, where Gordon scythed him down with a cynical challenge.
Brimmer put the ball on the spot and saw his attempt saved by Margush, before making amends from the resulting corner - Brimmer found McManaman at the front post, who flicked a header to Ryan steaming in at the back to nod the ball comfortably into the back of the net.
At 4-1, Victory were in command. But just 10 minutes later, the home side were flying.Butterfield impressed with his midfield play throughout the first 70 minutes, before getting in on the act himself by dispatching a knuckle-ball strike off his left boot from distance when provided too much time and space outside the box.
Butterfield's strike dipped and swerved as it rifled past Daniel Margush to rattle Victory into a 5-1 advantage.
The home side looked home and hosed holding a four-goal lead heading into the final 15 minutes of play before the Wanderers surged home, piling on three unanswered goals to set up a nervy finish at Marvel Stadium.
Graham Dorrans made it 5-2 from the penalty spot three minutes after Butterfield put Victory four goals ahead, benefiting off a Kruse handball inside the box.
Duke was the next Wanderer to write his name on the scoresheet, putting a bullet header from Troisi's wicked delivery past Acton with ease - Rudy Gestede failed to give chase to Duke in the box, which allowed the Wanderers forward to attack the ball with vigour and give his side hope.
In the 88th-minute of play, the away side pounced once more through an audacious strike by substitute Müller to make it 5-4, opening up the chance for a miraculous comeback.
The German volleyed on goal after Roux's interception deflected fortuitously into his path just outside the box. The ball drifted off Müller's boot, swerving away from Acton to nestle into the top-right corner of goal.
And so the Wanderers pushed on, desperate to clinch a point in exceptional circumstances. Kamau struck just over the bar in the dying moments of extra time in the final opportunity of the contest, as Victory survived by the skin of their teeth to clinch all three points.
Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
Tuesday, April 27 2021
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 7.35pm AEST
Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC
Saturday, May 1 2021
Kick-off: 7.10pm AEST
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