Photos: Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick refused to blame the referee for the equalising goal; Melbourne Victory's Rodrigo Vargas collected his fourth yellow card in this match; Matthew Kemp, back after a long absence through injury, scored an own-goal [PlessPix]
Melbourne Victory 3-3 Brisbane Roar
A controversial goal three minutes into stoppage time at the end of the match enabled A-League leaders Brisbane Roar to draw 3-3 with 6th-placed Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park in Melbourne tonight.
Brisbane goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos fielded a ball outside the left-hand side of his penalty area and ran back into the box before punting the ball upfield. Reinaldo beat Kevin Muscat to the ball in the air and glanced it on for Matt McKay to hare at goal. Michael Petkovic blocked McKay’s initial shot, but the ball rebounded off Victory defender Rodrigo Vargas and into the path of McKay, who stroked it into an empty net to make it 3-3.
It was an unfortunate incident for referee Peter Green, who was in charge of his 69th A-League game. Nevertheless, it should probably have been the assistant referee near the incident who should have flagged. He didn’t, and the goal stood.
Melbourne should have scored first when, in the 9th minute, Archie Thompson crossed from deep on the right and Robbie Kruse’s back-header found Marvin Angulo free at the far post, but he fired wide with the goal at his mercy.
The visitors gradually gained command and they took the lead on the half-hour following a corner on the right by McKay. The ball found Thomas Broich wide on the left and his inviting cross into the centre was glanced past his own keeper by Matthew Kemp, who was under pressure from Solorzano, who might have scored anyway had Kemp not touched the ball.
A minute into stoppage time at the end of the first half, it was 2-0 when Smith headed McKay’s corner at goal. Petkovic turned the ball against the bar, but Solorzano hit home the rebound with his left foot.
Victory were not down and out, however, and they made a remarkable comeback in the second half and scored three times to almost snatch the three points.
Kruse pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute after Hernandez slipped the ball through to him into the box and the former Brisbane player fired past Theoklitos, who once played for Victory.
Archie Thompson made it 2-2 in the 70th minute, heading home Hernandez’s cross from the left after a neatly worked one-two from a corner.
Thompson might have another three minutes later after a brilliant Melbourne counter-attack and a pass to the right by Hernandez, but he fired into the side-netting.
Kruse capped a fine display when he gave Victory a 3-2 lead 13 minutes from the end. Hernandez’s free-kick from just outside the box was parried by Theoklitos and Kruse was on hand to loop the ball over the keeper and into the far corner of the net from 6 metres.
But, the visitors claimed a late controversial goal which had Victory captain Kevin Muscat and Archie Thompson, in particular, seething.
Victory coach, Ernie Merrick, blamed his defence rather than the referee for allowing Brisbane to get the ball forward and score.
There was a bit of argie bargie after the game, including Muscat’s shove on Brisbane’s goalkeeping coach, but things eventually settled down and the teams left the pitch.
Brisbane are 7 points clear of second-placed Adelaide City after now going 15 games without defeat, while Victory are a point adrift of city rivals and 5th-placed Melbourne Heart.
Melbourne Victory: Petkovic - Broxham (Sukhat 46), Muscat, Vargas, Kemp - Celeski, Brebner (Ferreira 80), Angulo - Kruse (Dugandzic 82), Hernandez, Thompson (Sub not used: Mattei)
Booked: Muscat, Vargas, Hernandez
Goals: Kruse 63, 77, Thompson 70
Brisbane Roar: Theoklitos - Franjic, DeVere, Smith, Susak (Mundy 62) - Nichols (Brattan 72), Paartalu, McKay - Barbarouses, Solorzano (Reinaldo 74), Broich (Sub not used: Redmayne)
Goals: Kemp 30 og, Solorzano 45+1, McKay 90+3
Ref: P Green