Melbourne Victory have leap-frogged into the top four with a hard-fought 2-1 triumph against a dogged Newcastle outfit.

AAMI Park played host to a thoroughly entertaining Friday night battle, as Kosta Barbarouses opened the scoring for the hosts.

Jason Hoffman equalised on the brink of half time, but it was Besart Berisha’s 53rd minute strike that made the difference.

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An outstanding ball over the top from Leroy George was met down the right by an on-rushing Berisha.

The Albanian finished with aplomb, blasting the strike past a helpless Moss into the top right corner.

Both sides enjoyed quality time in possession in an open first half, but neither could fashion an opportunity better than Hoffman’s in the opening 30 minutes.

The lumbering winger-turned-forward spurned an unmarked headed opportunity in the six-yard box, which the side would be left to rue as Barbarouses volleyed ahead just after the half-hour mark.

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He was well-serviced by a golden cutback from Jason Geria on the left, taking the opportunity to stick the ball past a splayed-out Glen Moss with a lovely curling right-footed finish from the edge of the box.

Leroy George hit the upright with a driving effort from the left soon after, but it was another well-documented episode of Melbourne’s napping woes that left Muscat incensed, as Newcastle nabbed an equaliser on the stroke of half-time.

Steven Ugarkovic left Victory midfielders in his wake as he sprinted the best part of 30 yards down the guts, before finding magnificent composure to slide the ball through to Hoffman for a controlled, low-finish past Lawrence Thomas.

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It was a superb opening to the second term for the seemingly revitalised home side, taking the lead within eight minutes of the restart through Berisha’s strike.

Just five minutes later the dominant hosts had a penalty, as a lunging Ivan Vujica felled Geria in the box.

To some surprise, it was Mark Milligan that stepped up.

But the veteran was unable to convert, his low and straight strike cannoning into the visiting keeper’s knee.

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Offside calls continued to plague the Victory’s attack, as a furious Muscat earned yellow for a brutal tirade at the fourth assistant following another marginal call.

As the match trickled into the final minuted, Hoffman snubbed another golden opportunity for Newcastle.

Playing as a makeshift No.9 in the attacking third, the Jets man headed over yet again from close range after sublime service from the left.

It was all but over from that point, as Melbourne closed out the match.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Barbarouses 33’, Berisha 53’)

Newcastle Jets 1 (Hoffman 45+1’)

AAMI Park (15544)

Referee: Chris BEATH

Assistant Referees: George LAKRINDIS & Daniel ILIEVSKI

Fourth Official: Shaun EVANS

Melbourne Victory

2. GERIA Jason, 4. WILLIAMS Rhys, 5. MILLIGAN Mark, 8. BERISHA Besart, 9. BARBAROUSES Kosta, 10. TROISI James, 14. DENG Thomas, 20. THOMAS Lawrence (gk), 21. VALERI Carl (c), 22. NIGRO Stefan, 41. GEORGE Leroy

Substitutes: 1. ACTON Matthew (gk), 16. HOPE Joshua, 18. SANCHEZ Matias, 23. INGHAM Jai, 31. THEOHAROUS Christian

Newcastle Jets

3. HOFFMAN Jason, 4. BOORGARD Nigel (c), 5. KANTAROVSKI Benjamin, 6. UGARKOVIC Steven, 7. PETRATOS Dimitri, 13. VUJICA Ivan, 15. NABBOUT Andrew, 18. KOUTROUMBIS John, 20. MOSS Glen (gk), 24. CHAMPNESS Joseph, 44. TOPOR-STANLEY Nikolai

Substitutes: 10. BROWN Wayne, 12. SHABOW Mario, 16. COWBURN Nicholas, 22. JACKSON Lachlan, 30. NECEVSKI Ivam (gk)

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