Own goal hands Victory win over Brisbane

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Melbourne Victory has kept its unbeaten start to the year intact with a dour 1-0 win Brisbane Roar at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

In a match the never really hit any heights, it was an own goal by Roar defender Jade North that proved the difference.

Chances were at a premium all night, so much to the point it seemed that each team’s final third decided to have a night off.

Pre-match the talk surrounded one man – Besart Berisha.

This was billed as the fiery contest between the Albanian forward and his former employee that promised to deliver fireworks and goals from the big man.

Not quite.

While still having a massive presence on the game, Berisha’s impact was minimal but to be fair to the man he wasn’t alone in that department.

Both sides struggled to get into the match at all. This game had all the makings of a nil-all draw if not for North’s misdemeanour in front of his team’s goal.

The first 10 minutes of the half was a demonstration in errant passing by both sides.

With the Ange Postecoglou mantra of ‘pass, pass then pass some more’ still prevalent in Victory and Roar from the Socceroos former time in charge of both clubs, the two teams tried to show the other who is top dog is the passing game.

Neither are, so it would seem.

The first real chance of any meaning in the game came in the 15th minute when Archie Thompson headed wide a perfectly delivered cross by Mark Milligan.

Berisha entered the game in the 22nd minute when he was denied a goal against his former side thanks to a great save by Jaime Young with his legs.

The half ended in deep concern for the Victory when Milligan went down after a challenge with

The second half has much like the first; more physical than beautiful.

The heavy tackles were flying in by both sides. The constant fouling by both sides didn’t at all help with the flow of the match either with the stop and starts ruling out any real chance of a contest.

It appeared as though Victory had found the breakthrough just shy of the hour mark when the ball found the net from a rehearsed free kick move.

Gui Finkler played a ball on the ground to Milligan who in turn sent a cross close too Young in goal who collected the ball but was bundled over the goal line.

Confusion reigned shortly after whether the referee and called for a foul on Young or if a Victory player was deemed offside, the latter proving to be the case.

With the match drawing to an inevitable draw, Victory were handed a gift of an own goal turned into three points.

A Berisha header from a Fahid Ben Khalfallah looked like it was going wide until North took an unfortunate touch guiding the past Young.

The Roar gave very little in the remaining 15 minutes as the search for an equaliser never materialised.

It was the Victory who looked more likely to score and should have in the death when Ben Khalfallah made the mess of a one-on-one chance with Young after a swift counter attack.

Victory manger Kevin Muscat spoke post-game the frustration with the games flow.

“There was no momentum in the game, no-one was allowed to create any momentum,” he said.

“During the first half the stoppages to take free-kicks were excruciatingly long. I almost got bored at times. In the second half, when a team scores a goal, all of a sudden you have to hurry up.

“I’m going to have get that clarified. Because at 0-0 apparently you can take as long as you like on free-kicks and slow the game down. We’ll have to look at it.

“I don’t know if they were time-wasting but it seemed like a long time to me, you must have felt the same.”

This was a text book ugly win by the Victory. No flash and no nonsense. It was a win they needed to have to further enhance their championship winning credentials.

Winning easily is one thing, but to win when you’re not at your best and your opposition is hell bent on nothing more than getting a draw is another.

 It wasn’t a pretty when, but they will take it.

Melbourne Victory starting XI: 1. Nathan COE, 5. Mark MILLIGAN, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 7. Gui FINKLER, 8. Besart BERISHA, 10. Archie THOMPSON, 14 Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15. George GEORGIEVSKI, 21. Carl VALERI, 23. Adrian LEIJER, 24. Scott GALLOWAY

Melbourne Victory substitutes: 20. Lawrence THOMAS, 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 11. Connor PAIN, 16. Rashid MAHAZI, 22. Jesse MAKAROUNAS

Brisbane Roar starting XI: 21. Jamie YOUNG, 2. Matt SMITH, 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 10. HENRIQUE, 13. Jade NORTH, 14. Daniel BOWLES, 17. Matt McKAY, 18. Luke BRATTAN, 22. Thomas BROICH, 23, Dimi PETRATOS, 28, Brandon BORRELLO
Brisbane Roar substitutes: 30. Matt ACTON, 6. George LAMBADARDIS, 8. Steve LUSTICA, 15. James DONACHIE, 34. Shannon BRADY

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