The high-intensity Victory of old returned on Friday night as they saw off league-leaders Western Sydney Wanderers 2-0 in an end-to-end contest at AAMI Park.
Victory’s hero was Socceroo Oliver Bozanic who drove home two crackers to breathe life back into Victory’s campaign to remain a finals contender.
The first half started at an electric pace with Victory taking the early lead before Wanderers worked their way back into what soon became a cracking contest between two class outfits.
As both sides pressed and created chances, it was Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas who saved his side with a double-save, while Wanderers playmaker Mitch Nichols was everywhere against his former club.
The game opened up even more in the second half and Reddy saved his side with a brilliant stop to keep Wanderers in it. But he couldn’t stop Bozanic burying his second.
Victory 1-0 Bozanic (3’)
Wanderers couldn’t clear multiple attacks and Bozanic picked up a loose ball just outside the box, set himself and drove it home low and hard past Reddy’s left.
Victory 2-0 Bozanic (66’)
The ball wasn’t cleared in the box and despite a hint of handball on Finkler, Bozanic drove through one tackle and drove home low past Reddy’s right hand.
Daniel Georgievski was somewhat lucky to stay on the park after a late tackle on Wanderers' Nichols just before halftime. On another day Victory may’ve been down to 10.
Lawrence Thomas with a brilliant double-save first from first Nichols then Vidosic to keep Victory’s one-goal lead intact on 24 minutes.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Wanderers just can’t seem to find a way to win against Victory in Melbourne.
Late in the second half, Georgievski went down awkwardly as he cleared a ball with little contact from Nichols. He continued on somewhat gingerly before going down minutes later and being stretchered off.
THE FINAL WORD
Wanderers will nervously wait for City, Roar and Adelaide’s matches this long weekend knowing they could lose top spot with two games left for them.
The race for the Premiership just took another twist.
Victory, meanwhile, have breathed life back into a faltering campaign with a much-needed win.
But more than that it was the manner of performance that would’ve delighted Kevin Muscat, who was vocal in the lead up about players being accountable for their performances and intensity.
On Friday night, he got that accountability and a performance. But most importantly, he got three points to put some distance between them and Sydney FC in seventh while keeping the pressure on Glory in fifth.
Melbourne Victory: Thomas (gk), Georgievski (Galloway 87’), Broxham (c), Finkler, Berisha (Ingham 87’), Barbarouses, Bozanic, Ben Khalfallah (Makarounas 91'), Mahazi, Delpierre, Nigro
Western Sydney Wanderers: Reddy (gk), Jamieson, Topor-Stanley, Nichols, Delgado, Vidosic (Castelen 55’), Neville, Sotirio (Santalab 55’), Aguillar, Andreu (Bacchus 72’), Bridge
Red Cards: Nil
Yellow Cards: Georgievski, Berisha, Vidosic, Dimas, Topor-Stanley, Mahazi, Nichols.
Conditions: 18°C, dry
Venue: AAMI Park