Victory hold off unlucky GCU

It's been a night of high drama at a dusty Skilled Park with reigning premiers Melbourne Victory defeating Gold Coast United 3-2.

It was a night of high drama at a dusty Skilled Park with reigning premiers Melbourne Victory defeating Gold Coast United 3-2 on Saturday night.

A Kevin Muscat penalty deep into the second half secured the win but only after he was made to re-take a first missed attempt.

In an action-packed first half, both teams started in a lively attacking fashion.

The first chance of the match fell to Melbourne in the 11th minute, Mathew Kemp cutting back a pass to a waiting Archie Thompson who missed a golden opportunity in front of goal, blazing his shot high and wide.

Melbourne was then made to rue its missed chance a few minutes later, when Kevin Muscat brought down Joel Porter just inside the area.

Gold Coast captain Jason Culina stepped up to calmly slot home the penalty.

Gold Coast celebrations were put on ice almost instantly, when Carlos Hernandez unloaded a 30 metre pile driver that smashed into the top left hand corner, keeper Jess Vanstrattan could only watch as it fizzed by.

The match then took a turn as United were reduced to ten men, Steve Fitzsimmons earning himself a straight red card for a dangerous two footed tackle on Victory midfielder Leigh Broxam.

Taking advantage of the extra man, Melbourne went on the offensive, it's hard work rewarded in the 43rd minute when a Grant Brebner cross into the area was layed off by Fabiano to the waiting Archie Thompson who tucked the ball neatly into the bottom left hand corner making it 2-1.

However the Victory's lead was short lived, the men in yellow finding an equaliser in first half stoppage time with Joel Porter scoring his first goal in the Hyundai A-league.

Porter stayed down from a Jason Culina corner kick to head past keeper Glen Moss.

Returning from the half-time break, both teams continued to trade attacking blows.

United pushed hard in it's final third and had a great chance in the 65th minute when a Culina free kick floated into the area and fell perfectly for defender Kristian Rees who hit it straight at Victory keeper Glenn Moss.

The drama continued in the 85th minute when Archie Thompson, darting into the United area, was brought down by defender Bas Van Den Brink.

Victory captain Kevin Muscat, who hasn't missed a penalty in the Hyundai A-league, stepped up to the spot only to see shot spray high over the bar.

However, Muscat was made to re-take the penalty which he then converted crushing a resilient Gold Coast United in the process.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick was pleased by the result, however he acknowledged that Gold Coast had the edge early in the second half.

"(It was) a very good first half with some great inter-passing, some really good goal scoring opportunities, and a fantastic strike by Carlos (Hernandez)" Merrick said.

"In the second half their tails were up, they had nothing to lose, we just couldn't grasp it"

Gold Coast United 2 (Jason Culina 18', Joel Porter 45') Melbourne Victory 3 (Carlos Hernandez 22', Archie Thompson 43', Kevin Muscat 86p) Skilled Park, Gold Coast Referee: Peter Green Crowd: 5,603