Victory dulls roar

Geelong Advertiser, Monday 2 October 2006, p. 31.

Top of the table Melbourne Victory recorded its sixth win in a row against second-placed Queensland Roar by four goals to one at Telstra Dome last night in front of 25,921 fans. Victory sprang to an early lead in the tenth minute when Danny Allsopp robbed Marcus Weddau and laid the ball off to Brazilian Fred who waltzed past two defenders before slotting the ball past Thomas Willis in the Queensland goal. Fred was looking very sharp in his first match after a three week suspension.

Queensland hit back in 16 minutes as Hyuk-Su Seo’s shot was blocked but it fell to Simon Lynch.

Lynch’s deep cross picked out the unmarked Ante Milicic at the far post and the former Socceroo striker poked the ball over the line. It was end to end action from then on and Fred chipped a ball into the Queensland penalty area in 21 minutes. It appeared to hit Josh McLoughan, but in trying to prevent further damage young Matt McKay handled the ball and referee Simon Przydacz gave the Victory a penalty kick. Skipper Kevin Muscat made his usual effective job from the spot for his fifth goal of the season.

Victory continued to have the bulk of the play with several shots on goal, but the Roar threatened on the break. Adrian Caceres rounded off a sparkling first half with a run and cross which Brazilian Fred headed just over the bar.

The Victory had three quick chances to add to its lead early in the second half as Fred hit the post, Allsopp had a shot which  the keeper kept out with his foot, then Seo blocked another in the goal area. But when Socceroo Archie Thompson went on a run into the box, Stuart McLaren was adjudged somewhat harshly to have brought him down. Muscat buried the second penalty kick to give Victory a three-one lead. The midfielder is now top scorer in the A-League.

Adrian Leijer who had been very sound in defence was cautioned for a challenge in midfield. This led to a free kick by Spase Dilevski which was headed wide by defender Sasa Ognenovski.

As the Roar pushed forward it left itself vulnerable to swift raids by the Victory and Thompson found Allsopp clear on the right. The big striker might have been trying to slide the ball through to Fred in the goal area but it struck McLoughan on the heel and looped into the net in the 81st minute.

Visiting coach Miron Bleiberg said afterwards, ‘Melbourne Victory is the best team in the A-League on and off the field. It is a good side and conditions at the Telstra Dome are perfect. Melbourne players had excellent ball control and we lost the battle in the midfield in the first half.’

Ernie Merrick of the Victory said, ‘We did not have a bad player. This was the second largest A-League crowd after the Sydney game. Fred has been devastating at training. He is a very determined player and hit the post in addition to his excellent goal.’

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