Friday, February 5, 2010

Melbourne go 3 points clear at top of A-League

Photos (Top to Bottom): Adrian Leijer took over the captain's armband from the suspended Kevin Muscat; Victory coach Ernie Merrick is in line to equal Zoran Matic's record as the most successful Australian top-flight coach; Leigh Broxham missed a great chance for Victory; Rodrigo Vargas had to interpret for Carlos Hernandez in a post-match TV interview; Victory's Matthew Kemp suffered a bad knee injury after only a minute of the match; Evan Berger replaced Matthew Kemp at left-back [PlessPix]

Two goals by Carlos “El Zorro” Hernandez powered Melbourne Victory to a 2-0 win over eighth-placed North Queensland Fury before 22,726 fans at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne this evening.

The win puts Melbourne three points clear of second-placed Gold Coast United on the A-League ladder and extinguished Fury’s faint hopes of reaching the finals.

The win was the more meritorious because Melbourne were without the injured striker Archie Thompson and the suspended defender and captain Kevin Muscat.

Defender Adrian Leijer took over the captain’s armband in Muscat’s absence.

Melbourne’s Matthew Kemp also lasted just one minute after his knee buckled as he pursued an opponent.

He came back on, but his knee collapsed again shortly after and he hobbled off and was later using crutches to walk.

Reports suggest he has torn his anterior cruciate ligament, which will keep him out for a year. It was unbelievable that he was allowed to come back on after the initial injury.

Hernandez could have had a hat-trick, but his two goals made him man-of-the-match anyway.

Hernandez gave an indication of things to come when his early free-kick hit the crossbar.

In the 35th minute, he collected a pass from Marvin Angulo on the left of the box and beat James Downey before cutting inside and shooting past Justin Pasfield at the near post to give the home side the lead.

Fury hit back as Robert Middleby headed just wide and then had another shot that was turned against the post by Melbourne keeper Mitch Langerak after a cross from the left by Terry Cooke and a precise lay-off by Robbie Fowler.

Leigh Broxham, who was playing his 54th game for Victory, squandered a great chance early in the second half to score his first-ever goal when he missed from close range on the right of the box.

But, a free-kick by Hernandez in the 66th minute put Victory 2-0 up and they looked home and hosed.

Fury still had chances on the break and Fowler was unlucky near the end when his header clipped the top of the crossbar.

Nicky Mrdja, signed this week from central Coast Mariners, almost added a third for Melbourne in stoppage time when he broke clear on his own, but his left-foot shot grazed the bar.

Mrdja, who came on as a second-half substitute, had earlier thrown away a glorious chance when he broke clear of the defence but stumbled on the ball.

1 comment:

A-League observer said...

The lack of pace of many players and the lack of sharpness inside the final third and inside the box was evident in this match and shows some of the major flaws in this A-League competition. No wonder Verbeek can't rely on the A-League players for his Socceroos squad.