Photo: Newcastle Jets just ran out of fuel in the end [PlessPix]
Melbourne Victory 2-1 Newcastle Jets
Robbie Kruse’s brilliance created a last-minute goal for substitute Ricardinho to give Melbourne Victory a 2-1 win over 7th-placed Newcastle Jets before 16,378 fans at Melbourne’s AAMI Park this evening.
Kruse beat Tarek Elrich and Marcello Fiorentini twice each before cutting the ball across the face of goal from the left for his Brazilian team-mate to tap home from 2 metres.
The win lifted Victory above city rivals Melbourne Heart and into 5th spot.
Victory were without five players from the side that beat Perth Glory last week. Matthew Kemp, Archie Thompson and Surat Sukhar were all injured, while Grant Brebner was suspended and Diogo Ferreira was dropped to the bench.
Melbourne Victory absorbed huge pressure early in the game, but scored on a splendid counter-attack in the 20th minute.
Kevin Muscat slipped the ball to Carlos Hernandez in the centre-circle and he dropped his shoulders and squeezed between Ruben Zadkovic and Kasey Wehrman and headed for goal.
He shot low past the Jets captain and defender Ljubo Milicevic from all of 35 metres and keeper Ben Kennedy must be apportioned some of the blame for not saving. The ball did swerve slightly before zipping into the net, but it should have been a routine save, especially from that range.
Newcastle had had all the chances before that goal, with Jobe Wheelhouse, Francis Jeffers, twice, and Milicevic all shooting straight at Victory goalkeeper Michael Petkovic.
Mate Dugandzic shot just wide in the 35th minute from a Hernandez pass in another dangerous counter-attack by the home side.
But, the Jets’ Zadkovic then squandered two good openings in the space of two minutes as he directed shots straight at Petkovic.
The Victory responded through Hernandez and Kruse, but both blazed high over the bar.
In the 42nd minute, Jeffers sent a shot over the bar for the Jets, while a minute before the break, Hernandez collected a pass from Duganzic but chipped over the bar.
The Jets drew level in the 54th minute through a finely-worked goal. A long ball forward by Nikolai Topor-Stanley was nodded down by Jeffers into the path of Zadkovic, who volleyed home.
Five minutes from the end, Kruse missed an absolute sitter. Adrian Leijer won the ball in midfield and released Ricardinho down the right and his cross found Kruse at the far post, but the striker poked the ball wide from close range.
Kruse then redeemed himself by creating the last-minute winner and he must be in line to be included in Holger Osieck’s final Asian Cup squad, which will be announced tomorrow.
Melbourne Victory: Petkovic - Leijer, Muscat, Vargas - Dugandzic (Ricardinho 76), Celeski, Broxham, Pondeljak - Kruse, Angulo (Ferreira 80), Hernandez (Berger 90+2) (Sub not used: Mattei)
Goals: Hernandez 20, Ricardinho 90
Newcastle Jets: Kennedy - Elrich, Milicevic, Topor-Stanley, D-Apuzzo - Wehrman, Abbas (Fiorentini 76), Wheelhouse - Zadkovich (Haliti 89), Jeffers, Jesic (Subs not used: Petrovski, Duncan)
Ref: M Breeze