Strikes from Ola Toivonen and James Troisi saw a confident Melbourne Victory side defeat Sydney FC 2-1 in the Big Blue derby in front of a 21,085 crowd at AAMI park, in round 15 of the the A-League 2018/19 season.

Victory have not only leapfrogged Sydney FC in the table by a point, but have also denied the Sky Blues their fourth consecutive win. Despite sitting second, Perth Glory could extend their lead of four points if results go their way this weekend.

Victory also further extend their winning record over Sydney FC, clocking six victories over Sydney in the past 12 outings between the sides.

Image credit: Ngau Kai Yan

Both sides slowly grew into the high pressure fixture, the home side securing most of the possession. Only one chance was carved out in the first 19 minutes of the Australia Day fixture, from a tame Carl Valeri header in the 7th minute.

Then, James Troisi was fallen outside the penalty box after attempting a mazy run in the 20th minute. With Keisuke Honda absent, it was clear who was the alternative option. Up stepped Ola Toivonen, and he expertly dispatched a free kick up and over the wall, in off the post, to put the home side one up.

Such was the careful keep ball tactics from both teams that the “oohs” and “aahs” emanating from the half originated from the crowd cheering each other on in a game of keep ball, much to the annoyance of the stadium security.

In the 39th minute, Brandon O’Neill was presented with a free-kick in a similar position to Toivonen, in Victory’s half, but could not replicate the Swede’s antics, and his set piece sailed well over the bar.

Adam Le Fondre’s cheeky back flick from a low cross in Victory’s box was all round weak, and was easily dealt with by Lawrence Thomas, leaving the away fans yearning for more in the 2nd half.

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Paulo Retre wasted no time in attempting in forcing Thomas into a save after emerging from the dressing room in the 54th minute, but it hardly troubled the custodian.

Minutes later, in the 58th minute, Victory pounced again. Following some good counter attacking play, Baena received the ball on the right squared it across goal, and found an unmarked Troisi. His first time shot unfortunately might have come off Alexander Wilkinson, but the attacker struck it with so much power that Andrew Redmayne stood little chance on getting a hand on it.

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Sydney came back with a shout in the 63rd minute, against the run of play. Aaron Calver’s through ball found Milos Ninkovic, who prodded a shot at goal. Lawrence managed to get a hand to it, but spilled it kindly for which the Serbian duly converted.

In the 79th minute, Adam Le Fondre’s looping header from a Michael Zullo cross looked certain to evade an outstretched Thomas, but game crashing off the crossbar.

Sydney came close again in the 84th minute, with substitute Luke Ivanovic’s shot finding the base of the post, after a rare calamity in the Victory penalty box.

Sydney found themselves held back in defence by the driving runs of Elvis Kamsoba and Kenny Athiu in the crucial minutes of extra time, and were unable to salvage a draw.

Image credit: Ngau Kai Yan

Having already lost twice to Victory this season (Sydney were defeated 2-1 by Victory in round five), Steve Corica will now look towards 6th April to deny Victory of a clean sweep of wins over them in the 2018/19 season.

Victory will now travel to Gosford to face cellar dwellers Central Coast Mariners on the 2nd of February, in round 17 of the A-League.

 

Melbourne Victory 2 (Ola Toivonen 20’, James Troisi 58’)

Sydney FC 1 (Milos Ninkovic 63’)

Melbourne Victory

20.Lawrence Thomas (GK)
2.Storm Roux > 25.Anthony Lesiotis (88’)
3.Corey Brown
6.Leigh Broxham
8.Terry Antonis
9.Kosta Barbarouses
10.James Troisi
11.Ola Toivonen > 7.Kenjok Athiu (76’)
14.Thomas Deng
15.Raul Baena > 24.Elvis Kamsoba (60’)
21.Carl Valeri (C)

Unused Subs
1.Matthew Acton (GK)
16.Joshua Hope

Sydney FC

1. Andrew Redmayne (GK)
2. Aaron Calver
3. Benjamin Warland
4. Alexander Wilkinson (C)
6. Joshua Brillante
7. Michael Zullo
8. Paulo Retre > 21. Charles Lokoli Ngoy (79’)
9. Adam Le Fondre
10. Milos Ninkovic
11. Daniel De Silva > 31. Luke Ivanovic (53’)
13. Brandon O’Neill

Unused Subs
20. Aleksander Cisak (GK)
24. Cameron Devlin
25. Joel King

AAMI Park

Referee : Shaun Evans
Assistant Referees : George Lakrindis, Wilson Brown
Fourth Official : Lachlan Keevers
Video Assistant Referee : Kristian Griffiths-Jones

Feature image credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Journalism undergrad at Monash University, Kai is a multimedia journalist covering Melbourne Victory. Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund. Once "stole" Shinji Kagawa's plane ticket.