Gold Coast United snatch stoic victory

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Gold Coast United stretched their unbeaten run to nine games as they put in a stoic performance to beat Melbourne Victory 1 – 0 at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

A superbly headed own goal from Rodrigo Vargas was enough to give Gold Coast United an unlikely, albeit probably deserved, win over the more fancied Melbourne Victory.

Miron Bleiberg scored a rare tactical win over Ernie Merrick’s Melbourne side as the Victory failed to cause many problems for the Gold Coast defence.

The important win moves Gold Coast level on the table with the third placed Central Coast Mariners and gives the glitter strip boys a four point buffer over the fifth place Victory.

A crowd of 15,543 turned up to see the fifth versus fourth match buoyed by the hype of the returning Archie Thompson.

Bleiberg appeared happy to sit numbers behind the ball, his Gold Coast side doing what they have done best all season by being organised, compact and limiting space for opponent’s attack.

The Victory nearly snuck a goal when Mate Dugandzic almost got on the end of a trademark Kevin Muscat quick free kick in the 14th minute, Glen Moss doing just enough to keep the ball out for Gold Coast.

Robbie Kruse was influential in attack for the Victory and looked dangerous on the counter attack, linking well with familiar partner in crime Carlos Hernandez.

Kruse forced Moss to make a good save in 20th minute after the in-form striker made a nice jinking run and tried to bend it like Beckham into the right corner.

Ben Halloran showed plenty of future promise as the Gold Coast youngster continually tested the Victory defence with his pace and dribbling guile.

Jason Culina went within inches of scoring a brilliant goal for Gold Coast with his 37th minute audacious outside of the foot chip narrowly missing the top left corner.

Ernie Merrick gave the Victory fans what they’d long been waiting for when he introduced Archie Thompson at half-time for Dugandzic.

The anticipation surrounding Thompson’s return proved to be an anti-climax as it was Gold Coast who came out all guns blazing early in the second half.

Gold Coast brought more players forward with Joel Porter, Adama Traore, Culina and Halloran all combining well to provide more cutting edge up front against the Victory defence.

Gold Coast’s endeavours paid off when Rodrigo Vargas scored an Alan Shearer like header off a wicked Traore cross to give the Gold Coast the lead.

Vargas’ header rivals Ben Kantarovski’s own goal for the Newcastle Jets earlier in the year, with debate sure to ensue over the ‘Own Goal of the Season’ gong.

Thompson showed glimpses of the talent the Victory have been missing as he found space where other players can’t, and was able to weave his magic between defenders.

Michael Thwaite was a rock in defence for Gold Coast and was largely responsible for suppressing the threat of Kruse in the second half.

Gold Coast kept out an attacking Victory onslaught for the final 10 minutes of play to hold on for the hard fought win.

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