A late Gui Finkler special secured Melbourne Victory a 1-0 win over the Newcastle Jets in the Hyundai A-League at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
With only five minutes remaining, Finkler stroked a free kick into the top corner from the edge of the area as Victory finally broke down a resolute Jets unit.
It appeared if the Jets were going to earn a deserved point with their defensive formation containing Victory's attack until the Brazilian free kick expert struck.
WHAT THEY SAID
"The performance wasn't great today but we'll take the three points. There's a lot for us to work on for the next game.
"I always look at the wall and the keeper and I just decided in that moment. I went for his side because it was close but it's always very different." - Melbourne Victory midfielder Gui Finkler
"It's tough to come to Melbourne, we know what good a football team they are. We had a gameplan coming here and I think it worked up until the 82nd minute.
"We got undone by a fabulous freekick. We might've been able to score at the end there but it wasn't to be." Newcastle Jets defender Scott Neville
1-0 Finkler (85') – After Besart Berisha was fouled on the edge of the penalty area, Finkler stepped up to curl the free kick into the top right corner to send Victory fans delirious. Newcastle goalkeeper Ben Kennedy was standing on that side of the goal but free kick was placed with pinpoint precision.
The late goal sparked the Jets into action with Victory goalkeeper forced to make saves from Jeronimo and Scott Neville; the latter a brilliant save to his right from a stinging low shot just before referee Ben Williams blew the final whistle.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Victory's win broke a run of three consecutive score draws in this fixture with the Jets last defeating the blue side of Melbourne in October 2012.
During Victory's onslaught of attacks in the early stages of the second half, Fahid Ben Khalfallah cut inside from the left hand side to smash a stinging shot off the crossbar with Kennedy well beaten.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Jets coach Phil Stubbins deployed his side in a 3-5-2 formation with young wingers Andrew Hoole and James Virgili playing in unfamiliar wing back roles. The setup was designed to contain Victory and create attacks on the break. Ben Khalfallah gave Virgili a torrid time on Victory's left with the young Jets wing-back conceding the foul on Berisha that led to the winning goal.
THE FINAL WORD
Victory has the chance to close the gap to league leaders Perth when they host the Glory at Geelong on Friday while the Jets host Melbourne City on Tuesday after only a three-day break.
Melbourne Victory: Coe (GK), Geria, Ansell, Broxham (C), Galloway, Mahazi (Makarounas 33'), Valeri, Finkler, Khalfallah, Barbarouses (Thompson 71'), Berisha
Newcastle Jets: Kennedy (GK), Welsh, Madaschi, Neville, Hoole, Kantarovski, Virgili, Caravella, Pepper (Jeronimo 87'), Griffiths (C) (Carney 74'), Montano
Scorers: Finkler 85'
Red cards: nil
Yellow cards: Madaschi 2', Finkler 22', Virgili 57', Ansell 59', Montano 71'
Conditions: 21C, Dry
Attendance: 20,801 @AAMI Park