Muscat delighted with Honda's 'huge influence' on Big Blue
Melbourne Victory boss Kevin Muscat applauded the "excellent" Keisuke Honda for his crucial part in the Big Blue success against Sydney FC on Sunday.
Honda won and converted the decisive penalty inside the final 20 minutes to secure the visitors a 2-1 win at Jubilee Stadium and second spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder.
The goal capped a vintage display from the 32-year-old marquee man, who had more touches than any other Victory player and became increasingly prominent in the crucial moments of a tight contest.
Honda was greeted by a large group of adoring Japanese fans after the match and Muscat was just as impressed with his efforts.
"He had a huge influence on the game. He was excellent," the head coach said.
"We started to take control of the midfield more in the second half and that allowed Keisuke to push forward.
"It was a pleasure to watch. If he keeps influencing games the way he is I'll be pretty happy.
"He looks after himself unbelievably well. He's the utmost professional the way he carries himself and looks after himself."
Muscat also reserved praise for Ola Toivonen, who marked his first start with the opening goal from James Troisi's pass.
The Swedish striker lasted almost 70 minutes in a promising sign of his improving fitness.
"He's an intelligent footballer. He makes some really clever runs," Muscat said.
"We'll utilise him better going forward and likewise him getting to understand his team-mates [will help].
"He's clever in the way he draws people. I have no doubt he'll get better.
"He scored a goal as well, so he's had a decent start."