First home game at AAMI for the Melbourne Victory men and safe to say I was buzzing! It’s by far one of my favourite places to watch football and when compared to Marvel Stadium, I love the atmosphere the fans generate with the added bonus of being able to see the action up close and not be 1,973,973 kilometres away!
While the 7pm on a Sunday kick-off had many complaining on social media, nothing was going to stop the 17,000 fans from attending with the added bonus of our number 9 – Kosta Barbarouses playing his 100th Hyundai A-League game in Victory Blue. Hoping to put the Derby defeat behind us, it took the visitors only 8 minutes to score with Joel Chianese poking the ball in the back of the net after a defensive scramble leaving every home fan to shake their heads and wonder how we would bounce back going down so early.
Victory were looking flat, and this was only compounded when the maestro (yes, I’m a fan and would love him at Victory – looking at you Kevin Muscat) Andy Keogh finds space behind the line and scores in the 24th giving Tony Popovic’s side a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Three minutes later Kenny Athiu, plays Kosta Barbarouses in but the Glory defence hold strong in not giving the Kiwi any space to fire a shot. A minute later in the 28th, Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas is booked for a handball outside the box (in my potentially very biased opinion it hit his forearm with little the keeper could do but anyway). Athiu, tried again to make something happen for the home side in the 34th minute with his shot blocked by Franjic.
A couple of minutes later, Kosta Barbarouses cuts inside but the shot is fired wide of Glory’s goal. Finally, after constant booing and time-wasting Glory keeper Liam Reddy is shown a yellow in the 42nd minute triggering rapturous cheer and applause from the home fans. Into the dressing room both sides go with the visitors dominating the first half and I’ll be the first to admit I was mentally preparing for a 4, 5-0 demolition if the home side continued to play the same in the second half.
The second half went off with a bang when the fan favourite Terry Antonis pulled a quality strike outside the area in the 47th minute to pull one back for the home side! 2-1!
Whatever Muscat said to the team had worked, it was polar opposite to the first half performance with more intent shown by the home side and a good battle developing between Nick Ansell and Andy Keogh where it seemed every ball kicked long towards Keogh had Ansell heading the ball first every single time.
The 68th minute saw Melbourne’s marquee man Keisuke Honda denied a goal from a powerful hit on the edge of the area, with Reddy producing a good save.
Juande received a yellow, after bringing down James Troisi in the 71st resulting in a free for the home side, who were enjoying a better spell possession wise. A minute later and AAMI Park is livid following a clash between Georg Niedermeier and Liam Reddy, many of whom were calling for a penalty as it looked like Reddy had collected Georg and was nowhere near the ball. The clash flattened Georg who had to receive medical attention on the pitch before being subbed off.
AAMI Park erupted when the referee decided it was a goal kick… many screaming for the VAR to no avail. In the 86th, Barbarouses fired a volley forcing Glory’s Reddy to make a save before Victory win a corner. Honda crosses the ball in and in comes Strom Roux with a fantastic header!!! Levelling the scores 2-2 could Victory come from behind to not only salvage a point but perhaps cause an upset and win?!
In no time, Reddy is forced to again deny the 100 game man and the fourth official signals six minutes of stoppage time. Both sides, giving it their absolute all, the home side urging every Victory player anywhere near the goal to “SHOOT!” in the hope for a goal.
The 94th minute saw Chris Ikonomidis break Victory hearts and give the travelling Glory fans a night to celebrate scoring from a close range shot. (Sidenote: I can’t believe the Wanderers didn’t sign the then Lazio owned player, after his loan last season).
What a win for the visitors, while Victory fans and players alike are left to rue what could’ve been as they now sit bottom of the table with two losses in their first two games.
Featured image from Fox Football Twitter page.