Victory at the death
Super sub Ricardinho has proved the hero on Monday night, his 90th-minute goal giving Melbourne Victory a remarkable 2-1 win over Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park.
Super sub Ricardinho is the new hero of the Melbourne Victory faithful after his 90th minute strike gave them a remarkable2-1 win over Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park.
The Brazilian, who came on just 14 minutes earlier, scored a memorable tap-in following a wonderful piece of play from strike partner Robbie Kruse who danced through the Jets defence.
The last-gasp goal sparked jubilant scenes from the 16,378 crowd which celebrated a valuable three points that moves Victory up to fifth on the Hyundai A-League ladder ahead of crosstown rivals Melbourne Heart.
It also stretches Melbourne's unbeaten run to six matches and was their third consecutive home win after successes over the Heart and Perth Glory.
Victory coach Ernie Merrick praised his side's hunger as pivotal in the final wash-up.
"The last 10 or 15 minutes I always got the feeling that our players wanted to win the game and they were happy for a draw," Merrick said.
"As it turned out we created two or three chances at the death and fortunately scored with one. That effort right up until the end of the game was crucial for us."
But it proved a cruel blow for the visiting Jets, who were well worth at least a point, having enjoyed the better of general play, not to mention superior possession, leaving coach Branko Culina bitterly disappointed.
"It's very frustrating and probably a lesson for us, you can't switch off for a moment in the game," Culina said.
The Jets fought back from a goal down thanks to a 54th-minute goal from midfielder Ruben Zadkovich after a Carlos Hernandez special put the home side up.
The Costa Rican star stamped his mark on the contest with a wonderful 35-yard effort which beat goalkeeper Ben Kennedy, albeit one that came totally against the run of play in a first-half dictated by the visitors.
Newcastle created a number of opportunities in the opening stanza, but their best came after just six minutes when Jobe Wheelhouse blazed wide from inside the box following a wonderful build-up featuring Ljubo Milicevic and Ahmed Elrich.
Right-back Elrich in particular, was able to find space down Melbourne's left-side and played a hand in presenting opportunities for the likes of former England international Francis Jeffers along with Zadkovich.
But for all their dominance, Newcastle did lack a cutting edge up front, with Marko Jesic isolated for much of the game, while Jeffers worked hard, but his best efforts were long-range attempts which Victory goalkeeper Michael Petkovic comfortably handled.
Victory, who were missing influential midfielder Grant Brebner, were unable to create their usual fluency in attack, and were benefited by the calming presence of an impenetrable back three marshalled by skipper Kevin Muscat.
Muscat and his partners in crime, Rodrigo Vargas and Adrian Leijer were frugal throughout the 90 minutes, continually snuffing an array of Newcastle attacking raids.
Melbourne Victory 2 (Hernandez 20, Ricardinho 90) Newcastle Jets 1 (Zadkovich 54) Crowd: 16,378 at AAMI Park, Melbourne