Report: Honda the hero as Victory prevail in absorbing Big Blue
Melbourne Victory's star recruits proved decisive as Ola Toivonen and Keisuke Honda combined to seal a 2-1 win over Sydney FC at a sold-out Jubilee Stadium on Sunday.
Honda won and converted a penalty in the 71st minute to settle a tightly contested Big Blue and deny the hosts revenge for last season's Semi Final loss.
The points had seemed likely to be shared after Adam Le Fondre followed up his own saved spot-kick not long after Ola Toivonen's maiden Hyundai A-League goal in the 23rd minute.
But the Champions' marquee man stepped up in the second half to secure bragging rights for Kevin Muscat's men in rebel Female Football Round.
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Toivonen, making his starting debut, lit the fuse after a tense opening by sweeping home a James Troisi's pass that ran between two defenders.
Victory's joy was short-lived, though, as Terry Antonis - the scene-stealer in last season's rollercoaster Finals Series clash - was adjusted to have pushed Paulo Retre in the box 12 minutes later.
Le Fondre was sent to the spot and tucked away his fifth of the campaign courtesy of a kind rebound from Lawrence Thomas' initial save low to his right.
Sydney FC started to take command after half-time and threatened through a Ryan Grant header that forced Lawrence Thomas into a smart near-post parry.
But the visitors soaked up the pressure and, after Honda was felled by Jop van der Linden's lunge, the Japanese star dusted himself off to roll home the winner.
The result lifted Victory a point above the Sky Blues, who were left with their first Hyundai A-League defeat under Steve Corica.