Moral victory for nine men of Melbourne

Melbourne Victory 2 Brisbane Roar 2

Roy Hay

The highly awaited clash between the runaway league leader Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory ended in a two-all draw at Etihad Stadium on Saturady night, but the story was much more interesting than the scoreline suggests.

It is just over a year since Victory beat Roar three-nil at AAMI Park, the last game the Queenslanders lost in the A-League.

The teams have undergone significant changes of personnel since then, but while Roar have hardly missed a beat, Victory has struggled to integrate its high-profile additions, including Jean Carlos Solarzano from the Roar, Fabio, Isaka Cernak, Marco Rojas and of course Harry Kewell.

Victory fans make a V-sign with their balloons

The game exploded into life from the kick off as Adrian Leijer, facing his own goal, was robbed by Besart Berisha.

Keeper Ante Covic brought down the Brisbane striker on the edge of the penalty box and was immediately red carded by referee Ben Williams, who also awarded a penalty kick.

Victory had to take off Tom Pondeljak to allow reserve keeper Lawrence Thomas to make his first team debut.

Henrique struck the penalty into the left corner of the goal but had to retake it as players had encroached before he kicked.

The second time he put it to the right but the result was the same and Brisbane led one-nil, and it was now the 6th minute of play.

Four minutes later Archie Thompson struck back.

Diego Ferreira found Thompson on the edge of the penalty area and the quick-thinking striker lifted the ball over Michael Theoklitos and just under the crossbar.

After Eric Paartalu had shot wide following a corner the ball found its way back into the Brisbane half, where Harry Kewell broke up the counter-attack before it could start and released Thompson again.

This time the striker turned Matt Jurman inside out twice and then put the keeper on his back before slotting home an absolutely brilliant goal.

This would be a good spot-the-ball picture as Victory defend a corner

Adrian Leijer was booked for pulling back Massimo Murdocca and Thomas Broich lined up the free kick.

Now the Germans invented the tactic of jumping in unison in the wall at free kicks to hinder an attempt to curve the ball over and down on the side not covered by the keeper.

But Broich knew this, watched the Victory defence practising, and carefully struck a grounder under the jumpers and into the corner of the net.

A minute later Broich broke through again and this time his shot struck the post and rebounded into play.

In the 31st minute Leijer atoned for his earlier errors by clearing a shot by Henrique off the goal-line.

Six minutes later Matthew Foschini made a two-footed lunge at Broich and was sent off. So Victory was down to eight outfield players with more than half the game still to play.

Both teams had chances in stoppage time before the interval as Paartalu had a stinging shot which the young Victory keeper turned away for a corner, and Kewell won a header to put Thompson away again, but the striker’s relatively weak shot went straight to Theoklitos.

The twelfth man in action as Victory flags support the defensive effort

The second half saw no goals as the nine men of Melbourne fought like tigers on the edge of their own penalty area to deny Brisbane space to shoot in dangerous areas.

Brisbane seemed nonplussed by the task of getting round a packed defence and their cause was not helped by Ivan Franjic on the right wing who insisted on passing the ball backwards and provided no penetration down that flank.

Mehmet Durakovic said afterwards, ‘The commitment was unbelievable. Archie, Lawrence Thomas, I am proud of every one of them. The second send-off was unacceptable. I thought it was the wrong decision. I am gutted for Foschini who is not that kind of player.’

Archie Thompson said it is ‘Tough enough to play Brisbane when you have eleven, when you go down to nine it is much more difficult but team played very well.’

Steve Mautone said Victory had pinched Lawrence Thomas from under the nose of Melbourne Heart and thought the 19-year-old had great promise.

Ange Postecoglou said it was a weird old night. ‘They fought really hard. The game was a bit all over the place. We were not as creative as we could be, lost our composure in the first half and never really regained it.’

Former South Melbourne colleagues, now opposing coaches and still good friends. Ange Postecoglou and Mehmet Durakvoic.

Match details

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Melbourne Victory (Archie Thompson 10’, 21’) 2 Brisbane Roar (Henrique 6’, Thomas Broich 28’)

Venue: Etihad Stadium

Local Kick Off: 7:45pm

Attendance: 24,820

Referee: Ben Williams

Assistant referees: Luke Brennan and Hakan Anaz

4th Official: Lucien Laverdure

Melbourne Victory

21. Ante Covic, 2. Matthew Foschini, 3. Fabio, 6. Leigh Broxham, 10. Archie Thompson, 12. Rodrigo Vargas, 13. Diogo Ferreira, 15. Tom Pondeljak (20. Lawrence Thomas, 2’), 16.Carlos Hernandez (18. Danny Allsopp 71’), 22. Harry Kewell, 23 (14. Billy Celeski 64’), Adrian Leijer.

Unused substitutes: 11. Marco Rojas

Yellow cards: Carlos Hernandez 8’, Adrian Leijer 27’, Daniel Allsopp 79’, Archie Thompson 90+3

Red cards: Ante Covic 2’, Matthew Foschini 37’

Brisbane Roar

1. Michael Theoklitos, 2. Matt Smith, 3. Shane Stefanutto, 4. Matt Jurman, 5. Ivan Franjic, 6. Erik Paartalu, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 10. Henrique (11. Issey Nakajima-Farran 64’), 17. Mitch Nichols (18. Luke Brattan 71’), 22. Thomas Broich

Unused substitutes: 20. Andrew Redmayne, 16. Mohamed Adnan

Yellow cards: Besart Berisha 71’, Luke Brattan 90’.

Red cards: Nil.

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