It was another bumper crowd in at Etihad Stadium, where 23,740 people flocked in to see Besart Berisha’s Melbourne Victory edge out Brisbane Roar 1-0 on Friday evening.
The win continued the Victory’s undefeated start to their season – whilst the Roar will be left with much to contemplate after a 5th defeat from 6 games.
In a game which seemed to promise goals, it was surprisingly far from that – with both defences putting on strong shifts. Victory controlled the tempo and possession of the match, with the Roar attempting to catch Victory on the counter. There was no surprise to see that all the focus was being centred on Besart Berisha – and you could see the fire in his eyes as he sprinted around the pitch, chasing every ball and determined to make his mark on the game.
The first half was rather lacklustre – with the Roar unable to pose any sort of threat towards the Victory goal. However, the half sprang into life when Daniel Georgievski sent though a precise ball towards Berisha who’s shot was well saved by Jamie Young. This seemed to ignite Victory, who finished the half with a host of half chances – most notably an accidental backwards header by Daniel Bowles from a Finkler cross which just trailed over the crossbar.
It was a highly physical encounter, with 4 yellow cards being distributed by the half’s conclusion. However the game was still without its goal despite the intensity shifting from Victory. Melbourne’s captain, Mark Milligan sent a scare through the Victory camp when he went down clutching his right knee at the end of half – though he was given the all clear by the team’s physios to continue on.
The first 10-15 minutes of the second half rather mirrored the first as both teams went into their defensive shells, seemingly scared to make the first move. Kevin Muscat had seen enough. With Thompson having a rather quiet game he opted to unleash in-from Kiwi International Kosta Barbarouses in the 55th minute, which portrayed his attacking intentions for the remainder of the game.
From here, the game seemed to be entrenched in the Roar’s defensive half, with possession being dominated by the Victory. And with possession came chances for the Victory – Leigh Broxham leaped up high to see his header sail over the bar, followed by Ben Khalfallah’s deflected shot which looked like flying into the back of the net, only to glide wide of the post.
The Roar had defended admirably; applying pressure, clearing their lines and denying the Victory of any true clear cut chances. However, it was a helpless mistake by Jade North which gifted the lead to the home side.
A highly inviting free-kick in by Ben Khalfallah, which was headed on by who else but Besart Berisha saw Jade North powerlessly knock the ball into his own net sending the 23,000 Victory fans into ruptures. As well as the Roar had defended it was a goal that everyone in the crowd sensed was coming. In truth, it completely knocked the stuffing out of the Roar – and from here on they never really looked like breaching Victory’s goal.
Ben Khalfallah should have put the icing on the cake for Victory after he was sent through one on one by Berisha – however his shot was sharply saved by Young.
It would have been a fitting end to the game for Ben Khalfallah as he was undoubtedly the best player on the park.
This win sees the Victory climb to the top of the table for the next few hours (at least) – whilst the Roar slump to 8th on the table with a mere 3 points from 6 games.
Brisbane will now look ahead to their home clash against the inform Perth Glory – whilst the Victory are set to do it all over again next Friday night, with their mouth-watering clash against Adelaide United the feature for the weekend.
Melbourne Victory 1 – 0 Brisbane Roar
FTS Man of the Match:
Fahid Ben Khalfallah (Melbourne Victory)