Gui Finkler’s late goal ensured Melbourne Victory returned to the winner’s circle with a 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets.
Melbourne Victory play Perth Glory, for the first time this campaign tonight at Simmonds Stadium in Geelong.
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A nil all draw looked the most likely result before the referee awarded the Victory a free kick just outside the box against the Jets.
With Finkler on the park, the goal was almost inevitable. It’s not the first time he’s rescued points for victory late in matches and it surely won’t be the last. The Brazilian’s presence at set pieces as well as in midfield are crucial to Victory’s success.
Looking ahead to the Glory match, the battle between Finkler and Perth’s Nebojsa Marinkovic will determine who controls the midfield – and consequently which attack gets more service.
Kevin Muscat will have to contend with a few losses, namely that of Fahid Ben Khalfallah after he accrued his fifth yellow card of the season which earned him an automatic one week suspension.
He has been, arguably, the Victory’s best player in recent weeks.
With Barbarouses’ less than impressive performance against the Jets, both he and Archie Thompson – Khalfallah’s likely replacement – will need to be at their brutal best.
Having only played once before at Simmonds Stadium, the home ground advantage is minimal.
That game, an Asian Champion’s League qualifier, ended in a win for the Victory and Archie Thompson hopes the stadium – as well as the local fans – will treat them well once again.
This venture into an AFL heartland, the home of the Geelong Cats, is a unique opportunity to expand the club’s supporter base and an annual Geelong fixture seems to be a likely, and logical, option.
Only Adelaide United have achieved this so far this season, as well as in the FFA Cup final.
Hitting the half way mark in the competition it is strange that these sides haven’t met yet, but with only four points separating them, this game looks set to be an entertaining clash.
Kevin Muscat was quick to place favouritism, for the match and for the title, on Kenny Lowe and his side.
Archie Thompson admitted the team had deviated from their structure in the last few weeks. However, there is no better time for the side to return to their early season form of dangerous and clinical finishing.