Brooks the unlikely hero as Victory down Jets on the road
Lleyton Brooks emerged from the bench for Melbourne Victory to score the decisive goal in a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The 20-year-old netted the winner in the 79th minute after Victory defender Dylan Ryan drew the visitors level with a headed goal early in the second half, cancelling out Apostolos Stamatelopoulos' first-half strike which gave the Jets the early ascendancy.
Both Victory men scored their maiden A-League goals in the Hunter to end the club's five-game winless run.
Valentino Yuel put the Jets back in front minutes after Ryan's equaliser early in the second half, but VAR found Stamatelopoulos in an offside position in the build-up to the goal, waving away Newcastle's second goal and allowing Victory to gun for all three points.
Brooks replaced the lively Ben Folami with half an hour to play, and the young forward made the most of his second-half cameo, combining to lethal effect with Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio to score the winner, vanquishing Newcastle's advantage and condemning Craig Deans' side to a seventh-straight defeat - the worst run in Newcastle's history.
The result draws Victory level with the Jets on points, however Grant Brebner's side remain on the foot of the A-League table with an inferior goal difference.
An early Ben Folami strike put Jack Duncan to the test in goal for Newcastle as the visitors looked to gain a quick advantage.
Folami shot from outside the box, directing the ball to the bottom-right corner, but Duncan got down to parry the shot away with a low save to his left. The ball filtered back out to Folami on the left flank in the aftermath and the Victory forward dispatched another shot - this time off his left - which went wide of the mark.
In the 18th minute of play, Newcastle went ahead through a close-range Stamatelopoulos finish. The 22-year-old found himself in the right place at the right time to bury the ball past Matt Acton after Roy O'Donovan turned with the ball in the box to feed Stamatelopoulos in space at the back post.
The chance was created by Valentino Yuel, who displayed pace and skill to dribble past Nick Ansell as he took the ball toward the byline off the left wing. His cross along the deck found O'Donovan, who took one touch before slipping in Stamatelopoulos to finish.
Acton was kept on his toes throughout the first half, as the Victory 'keeper ensured Newcastle's advantage remained at just one goal at the break. Acton tipped a venomous Luka Prso shot wide of the mark, before gathering a deflected Ramy Najjarine strike off of Stamatelopoulos' cross to the back post as the hosts pushed hard for a second goal.
Folami continued his dangerous first-half form late in the opening 45. Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio failed to benefit from his teammate's invasive attacking play by fluffing his lines in the centre of the box after a cut-back from Folami, under the pressure of Nicolai Topor-Stanley desperately trying to cover an unguarded goal.
Newcastle were made to pay early in the second 45 when Victory equalised through Ryan's header from a corner routine.
Jake Brimmer sent his cross toward the front post, where Connor O'Toole stood in wait to clear - but the Jets defender couldn't get enough purchase on his header, which only helped the ball along its way toward the back post.
Ryan read the danger, and steamed into open space as the ball dropped favourably in his path. The defender headed the ball into the back of the net to notch his first A-League goal and level the scores.
Victory's parity in the contest looked set to last just four minutes after Yuel put his side back into the lead. But VAR intervened in the aftermath, finding Stamatelopoulos in an offside position in the build-up.
The Jets forward ventured ahead of Newcastle's defensive line to head the ball to Najjarine, who crossed for Yuel to finish. Despite seeing seeing his quick reply wiped off the scoresheet, Yuel persisted in his attempts to put the Jets back into the lead, sending a shot just over the bar after a magnificent run off the left flank.
Victory boss Grant Brebner brought Ben Folami off for Brooks on 60 minutes.
Folami was Victory's brightest attacker throughout the opening hour of play, but withdrawing the attacker for Brooks proved a masterstroke from Brebner as the substitute netted the winning goal in the 79th minute.
The 20-year-old played a one-two with Lawrie-Lattanzio to set himself up to finish, dribbling toward Topor-Stanley and feeding his attacking partner down the right-hand side of the box.
Lawrie-Lattanzio cut the ball back into Brooks' path, who gathered just outside the six-yard box to finish past Duncan, and put Victory on the path toward a rare A-League win.
Newcastle Jets v Perth Glory
Tuesday, April 13 2021
Coffs International Stadium
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST
Melbourne City v Melbourne Victory
Saturday, April 17 2021
Kick-off: 7.10pm AEST
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