Muscat takes the positives from derby defeat
Melbourne Victory manager Kevin Muscat was convinced his side’s performance against Melbourne City on Saturday night was a “really good starting point for us”.
His comments came despite Victory suffering a first-up defeat, with City coming from behind to win the Melbourne Derby 2-1 thanks to goals from new signings Richie De Laet and Riley McGree.
More than 40,000 fans piled into Marvel Stadium and the majority, including Muscat, were enthralled by an exciting first half from Victory, capped by Keisuke Honda’s first Hyundai A-League goal.
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A disputed 40th-minute penalty helped City equalise, despite Bruno Fornaroli’s spot-kick being saved, with De Laet reacting quickest to net the rebound, before McGree’s smart finish settled the contest.
“That 40 minutes before that incident, I thought we were outstanding,” Muscat said.
“[It was] total dominance, total control and playing some really attacking and exciting stuff.
“We could sense that things [we] had been working on [were paying off], there was evidence of that, the players began to draw confidence and belief from that.
“[We] scored a really good goal and deserved goal [after] the amount of relentless pressure we were putting them under.
“And then to concede the way we did, at the time we did, if anything, gave them some momentum, which I didn’t think we deserved that at that point in time.”
Even though Victory dropped off after the break, a host of chances still fell their way.
And Muscat said that should encourage fans as Victory look to defend their Hyundai A-League title.
“In the second half, even when it was 1-1, again, we created some really good chances,” he said.
“Kosta [Barbarouses] goes through, you know, one-on-one with the keeper, Jimmy [Troisi] hits the inside of the post, it goes agonisingly close, at 2-1 Kenny [Athiu] has a great chance, after performing so well.
“Kenny was outstanding for us tonight.
“We’ll continue to work on things and get better. But there was some real positives to start with. A really good starting point for us.
“Everybody will analyse the result and, yeah, we would have liked to have had a different result, but in terms of the performance, I thought there was some really good stuff from us.”
City boss Warren Joyce hailed the collective effort of his side and said the fighting mentality they displayed was something he wanted to see more of.
“Culture is a big word in the country … we want that throughout the football club,” he said.
Joyce, who said that there was “a lot more to come” from new signing De Laet, felt that the decision to award City with a first-half penalty was correct.
And he added that if was a line-ball decision, he felt City were owed some luck.
“I think we’ve had more than our fair share of bad luck on VAR [video assistant referee] last season,” he said.