Stats review: Victory change approach to punish Phoenix
The Hyundai A-League Finals Series couldn’t have started any better with two superb games that saw Melbourne Victory continue their dominance at home, while Adelaide United snapped a hoodoo at just the right time.
It was Victory superstars imports Ola Toivonen and Keisuke Honda that inspired their side to another finals win in front of their home fans and potentially 90 minutes away from another decider.
Meanwhile, the Reds left it very, very late but finally overcame their horror recent record against Melbourne City.
We take a look at that and more thanks to Opta data.
Victory's stars step up as home comforts continue in finals
With an average of 522 passes per game across the season, no other team in the Hyundai A-League has circulated the ball more than Melbourne Victory.
However, Kevin Muscat's side made just 342 passes - their lowest total of the season - in Friday's 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix, compared to the Kiwi outfit's 586.
It was a change in approach which enabled the individual quality and experience of Kevin Muscat's men to swiftly capitalise on the errors Phoenix made.
Victory are almost impossible to beat at home in the Finals Series. They have never lost a finals fixture in Melbourne in regular time, recording 12 wins with their only defeat a penalty shoot-out loss. That one came against Sydney FC in the 2010 Grand Final.
The reigning champions' star men stepped up, especially Toivonen.
The Swedish striker scored one and set up another while creating a game-high three chances.
Honda also had an assist – his set-piece headed in by Georg Niedermeier – and created two opportunities.
Reds end City struggles at perfect time
Adelaide United picked a good time to end their poor run against Melbourne City.
Ben Halloran's 119th-minute winner sent the Reds into a Semi-Final meeting with Perth Glory thanks to a 1-0 victory over City on Sunday.
It ended Adelaide's seven-match winless run against Melbourne City, who had also claimed four of their previous seven games at Coopers Stadium.
Reds star Craig Goodwin looked to cause City problems, providing 14 crosses – double the number of the next most.
It was one of his accurate deliveries from the flank that found Baba Diawara, who teed up Halloran to strike as penalties loomed.