Melbourne Victory has booked its place in next week’s semi-final against Sydney FC after a clinical display against the Wellington Phoenix.

Despite a brief period of dominance from the visitors mid-way through the second half, the result never looked in doubt as the reigning champions stamped their authority and proved once again, they are a force to be reckoned with in the finals.

It was an intense opening half with both teams bringing finals-like intensity and physicality.

Both teams looked to impose themselves physically early on – with referee Shaun Evans halting the play 23 times for fouls and entered Michal Kopczynski and David Williams into the book.

The Phoenix looked the more polish moving forward – with Roy Krishna combining well with David Williams – but failed to test Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas.

Heralded as a ‘finals side’ during the week, the home side improved as the half wore on.

Embed from Getty Images

With Wellington placing a greater emphasis on Victory’s usual suspects – Ola Toivonen and Keisuke Honda – Elvis Kamsoba found plenty of room down the left-hand side.

The former Avondale striker did not look out of place in his finals debut – stepping up to the big occasion and filling the void left by the injured James Troisi.

You can watch the A-League live for only $25 a month. Click here to read our review of Kayo Sports and to start your 14-day free trial.

It appeared the visitors had done enough to hold their much-fancied opponents as the break approached, but a lack of coordination from a late set-piece saw the Victory take the lead.

Toivonen won a foul on the edge of the area which saw Honda finding an unmarked Georg Niedermeier who – with his back to goal – flicked the ball backwards with his head into the back of the net to open the scoring in the 42nd minute.

Embed from Getty Images

The heavens and the play opened in the second half and the home side kicked into second gear.

Toivonen and Kosta Barbarouses combined in the 49th minute in an attempt which saw the Kiwi international’s shot just go wide.

The two would combine once more in the 52nd minute with Barbarouses finding the back of the net this time as Toivonen played the former Phoenix winger through as the Victory broke on the counter.

Barbarouses scoring his 16th goal in all competitions and his second against the Phoenix this season.

Just when it appeared the Victory would run over the travelling Phoenix, the visitors pulled one back through the league’s golden boot winner Roy Krishna.

The Fijian flicked the ball past Lawrence Thomas from close range after a perfect delivery into the box by substitute Sarpreet Singh.

Although this resurgence came to a dramatic halt as Toivonen added his name to the score-sheet with a touch of class.

After a Barbarouses through ball was deflected off Liberato Cacace in defence, the Swedish international did not give up the chase and recovered the ball on the wing at the edge of the box.

With no Victory player within 30-yards of him, Toivonen took the ball in and despite the narrow angle chipped the ball into the side netting of the far post to set-up an almighty semi-final against Sydney FC.

As the fourth official indicated there would be an additional six minutes of time, the Toivonen broke through again. However this time he looked to square the ball to Kamsoba who was unable to score his first professional goal.

Despite the match coming to an end, the controversy was only just getting started as Polish defender Kopczynski was booked a second time and given his marching orders for a late tackle – in a period which also saw one of the Phoenix coaching staff booked.

Though ultimately the night belonged to the Victory, who on the day were a class above.

Melbourne Victory 3 (Niedermeier 42′, Barbarouses 52′, Toivonen 71′)

Wellington Phoenix 1 (Krishna 64′) 

Red Card: Michal Kopczynski

 

Melbourne Victory

Starting XI:

  1. Lawrence THOMAS, 4. Keisuke HONDA, 5. Georg NIEDERMEIER, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8. Terry ANTONIS, 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES ( 2. Storm ROUX 92′), 11. Ola TOIVONEN, 14. Thomas DENG, 15. Raul BAENA (21. Carl VALERI 85′), 17. James DONACHIE, 24. Elvis KAMSOBA (7 Kenjok ATHIU 93′)

Unused Substitutes:

  1. Matt ACTON, 25. Anthony LESIOTIS

 

Wellington Phoenix

Starting XI:

  1. Filip KURTO, 4. Armando PENA (18. Sarpreet SINGH 57′), 5. Ryan LOWRY ( 17 Callan ELLIO 90′), 11. David WILLIAMS (7. Cillian SHERIDAN 77′),  13. Liberato CACACE, 14. Alex RUFER, 15. Michal KOPCZYNSKI, 21. Roy KRISHNA, 22. Andrew DURANTE, 23 Max BURGESS, 27. Steven TAYLOR

 

  1. Oliver SAIL, 32. Gianni STESNESS

 

Featured Image: Ngau Kai Yan

SHARE
RMIT Journalism | Football Nation Radio Like all football fans my general mood for the week is dictated by how my team performs over the weekend.