Honda leads Victory's four-goal Mariners rout
Keisuke Honda and Melbourne Victory turned on the first-half style to defeat Central Coast Mariners 4-1 in Sunday evening’s Remembrance Round clash.
The Japanese star pounced on an Antony Golec error early on to open the floodgates before goals from James Troisi and Corey Brown saw Victory enter half time with a commanding 3-0 lead.
Central Coast got on the board following the interval via Mario Shabow’s first Hyundai A-League goal, but Victory underlined a dominant display through Josh Hope's stoppage time strike.
Now unbeaten in their last 16 matches against the Gosford club, Victory let the visitors off the hook early on as Kosta Barbarouses and Leigh Broxham each spurned gilt edged chances.
But there was never any doubt that Honda would misfire when he pounced on Golec’s errant pass before curling past Ben Kennedy to break the deadlock.
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Central Coast had gifted Victory the opener, but Muscat’s side doubled their advantage with a goal of real team quality.
Neat interplay down the left-hand side saw Terry Antonis release James Troisi into the box, who lobbed Kennedy with a classy finish.
And it got even better for Victory in first-half stoppage time as Corey Brown netted his first goal in Navy Blue.
The hosts took their foot off the pedal in the second stanza and allowed Shabow to notch a second half consolation, inadvertently directing Ross McCormack’s shot past the wrong-footed Lawrence Thomas.
But it proved little more than a shot in anger for the Mariners, who conceded a fourth with the last kick of the game when Victory debutant Ola Toivonen teed up Josh Hope.