Victory lay down impressive marker as Honda sparkles again
The calendar may only just have flipped over into December but there are signs it’s going to take something special to stop Melbourne Victory this season.
Kevin Muscat’s men were a joy to watch in Saturday night’s 4-0 mauling of Western Sydney Wanderers, blowing the visitors away with their high-octane attacking football.
While Perth Glory are still unbeaten and look strong under new boss Tony Popovic, Victory’s dismantling of the Wanderers was far and away the best performance of 2018/19 so far.
While he had a strong supporting cast at Marvel Stadium – with Terry Antonis, Ola Toivonen and Raul Baena all catching the eye – marquee man Keisuke Honda again stole the show.
The Japanese legend was simply unplayable at times.
His passing – which was at an accuracy of more than 90% - to bring teammates into the game was brilliant, while he produced a few moments of skill which got the fans out of his seat.
It was Honda’s powerful header which opened the scoring on 11 minutes, ending what was a classy and flowing move down the left.
Baena’s goal just after the half-hour mark also had plenty of quality about it but it was Antonis’ late strike which shows why Victory looms as the team to beat.
All their attacking stars were involved, with the move starting in their half and within six touches the ball was in the Wanderers’ net after a thumping finish from Antonis.
It wasn’t just Victory’s attacking play which impressed, but they also showed an ability and desire to hunt in packs and win the ball back high up the pitch.
After back-to-back defeats to open the campaign, Victory has now won four on the trot and seem to be getting stronger every week.
Ominously for their rivals, Honda still sees plenty of room for improvement.
“I’m not satisfied yet, I think we can get better,” he told Fox Sports after the match.
“[Tonight] I scored and the team scored four goals but we also made a lot of mistakes.
“What I want to change about the team is we shouldn’t be satisfied even at 4-0,” Honda added.
“It doesn’t matter to me about the result, it’s important how we can make people happy here. I think football is entertainment and the fans want to be happy for the whole 90 minutes.
“Even at 4-0 we have to score and be aggressive.”
If Honda’s Victory teammates can heed his words, they are going to produce more thrilling displays like we saw against the Wanderers…and will take some stopping for the title.