Muscat praises ‘courageous’ 10-man Victory as City are left to rue missed opportunities

Going down to 10 men is never easy, doing it in a derby makes it that much worse but Melbourne Victory manager Kevin Muscat said their 1-1 draw with Melbourne City was ‘nice’ to watch.

Victory’s hopes of catching the runaway Perth Glory appeared to have hit a major snag after 15 minutes when Georg Niedermeier brought down Jamie Maclaren in the penalty area, leading to a second yellow card for the German defender.

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REACTION: Victory add another string to bow

When Maclaren converted the subsequent spot-kick, it looked a long way back for Victory but an inspired tactical chnage at half-time saw Kosta Barbarouses pop up in the 50th minute to bang home the equaliser.

Muscat said he was thrilled with the character his side had shown to fight their way back into the game.

“To go down to 10 men so early and also concede off the same incident, it was a big challenge, a big task ahead of us,” Muscat said post-match.

“I think half-time was really important for us and then from there I just think that the amount of courage and heart that we played with was really good, really nice to watch and really good to be involved in.”

Muscat made the bold decision of swapping playmaker James Troisi for the ultra-attacking option of Ola Toivonen at half-time and it was a tactical tweak that paid off.

“Immediately after the break was really important for us, we shifted things a little bit and were still going for the game,” Muscat explained.

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“[We] still had two up top, comes with some risks without doubt but when you’ve got a group of men that play with such desire and discipline, anything’s possible.

“That period from half-time up until we scored our goal we were the ones looking to score, we were the ones looking to push on and ultimately we concede a few chances from distance but really that was about it, I was really pleased and proud of the boys without doubt.”

It could have been a much different result had City found their shooting boots.

The Melburnians had efforts from Rostyn Griffiths and Luke Brattan thump off the woodwork as they went in search of winning two league derbies for the first time in their history.

Manager Warren Joyce said he was happy with their attacking efforts.

“I thought we started really well, came out of the blocks, pressed them well,” Joyce said.

“Shay [Harrison] had a good chance, [Kearyn] Baccus had a good chance, Griffiths obviously just before half-time hits the post and there were a few other chances where you could have gone in 2-0.

“If you look after it [the goal] we’ve hit the post again, we’ve had other chances, probably 15 shots, they’ve had one.”

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Joyce, who has come under significant pressure in recent weeks, bemoaned the lack of focus that lead to Victory’s equaliser.

“They played 4-3-2 and were just looking to counter us and unfortunately we had a moment of madness where we were still appealing for a penalty and maybe not knowing what was going on, we were a bit disorganised and they score from an acute angle really.”