As the saying goals, football matches are almost always decided in both boxes.
That was certainly the case as champions Melbourne Victory extended their long unbeaten run as they came away with a 2-1 win over a gallant Western Sydney Wanderers at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
While the home side were arguably the better side and had a string of excellent chances, it was Victory’s star men at either side of the pitch that decided the match.
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Lawrence Thomas again showed why he is considered one of the best keepers in the Hyundai A-League with another eye-catching display.
The Victory custodian was called into action early, keeping out efforts from Bruce Kamau and Patrick Ziegler inside the first 11 minutes.
It was his heroics and vital stops that helped the visitors absorb the early onslaught from a Wanderers side playing with a renewed vigour and purpose.
And Thomas came up big again at the death, somehow getting a hand on Nick Fitzgerald’s vicious strike to touch it on to the post to keep the score at 2-1.
“On a personal level I’m happy to contribute to the team and keep it tight at the back,” Thomas told Fox Sports after the match.
“It’s important for us to keep picking up points even though tonight wasn’t our best game.”
While Thomas was producing the goods at one end, another Victory star was doing the business at the other end of the pitch.
Ola Toivonen may not have had the same influence on the match as he had in previous weeks, but the giant Swede delivered when it mattered most.
Toivonen struck in the last minute of the first half before he was on hand to tuck home James Troisi’s cross four minutes from full-time to give Victory all three points.
“We were maybe a little bit lucky to get the win here tonight but in the end, it’s the three points that counts and we’re happy with it,” the big striker said.
“It really doesn’t matter how the game looks in this period. It’s a lot of games and a lot of travelling so it doesn’t matter how we play, as long as we get the three points.”
Toivonen’s brace took his season tally to seven goals, while Toivonen also became the first Victory player to score in five successive Hyundai A-League matches.
Coach Kevin Muscat is sure to demand a better performance from his side as the season goes on but it must be comforting for the Victory boss to know he has players that can get it done at both ends of the pitch.