Victory show another string to bow in worthy derby draw
Thrilling attacking football, amazing combination play and a stack of goals have been the pillars of Melbourne Victory’s success so far in the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Season.
But we saw another side to the defending champions in Saturday night’s gripping 1-1 derby draw with fierce rivals Melbourne City.
Following the 15th-minute send-off of German defender Georg Niedermeier, it was a performance of real grit and determination for Kevin Muscat’s men to salvage a point.
After Jamie Maclaren’s goal from the subsequent penalty, City dominated possession but failed to really create any clear chances for the remainder of the match.
And Victory managed to come up with one moment of quality early in the second half to get the goal that ensured they wouldn’t be beaten by their City rivals.
Incredibly, Victory’s goal came from their only shot on target and it’s the first time in the club’s history they haven’t registered multiple shots on goal.
And that alone signifies how Victory had to change up their approach to get something out of tense content.
“I’m just so thrilled with the courage and bravery of [my] team,” a proud Muscat told Fox Sports at full-time.
“Half-time was important to us and the discussion was to go and get the next goal and try and win the game.
“Yes, it’s a different type of football to what we are normally accustomed to and like playing, but the discipline and organisation and structure to limit them to opportunities from distance was outstanding and it was a really impressive performance.
“The way we structured up in midfield and having Kosta [Barbarouses] stay up front the entire second half gave us an attacking threat.
“We were still searching and causing them problems but that came off the back of a really gutsy and courageous performance.”
Barbarouses’ goal was his eighth against City, the most he has scored against any single club in the Hyundai A-League.
It came from an incisive pass from marquee man Keisuke Honda, who was also excellent in his first start in more than two months.
“The boys had to dig deep today, we showed a lot of character,” Barbarouses said.
“The second half we came out with a game plan, ‘we said it wasn’t going to be won or lost in the first five or 10 minutes of the second half but it was and we got the result from that and hung onto it.”