Own goal gives champs opening Victory
MELBOURNE Victory are yet to concede a goal to an opposition player this season.
However Kevin Muscat’s men still came out on the wrong side of the ledger in their A-League season-opener last night, losing 1-0 to Sydney FC at Etihad Stadium after a second-half own goal off defender Thomas Deng.
It meant there would be no grand final revenge for the Victory, with Sydney extending to five their winning streak against their southern rivals.
The hosts, missing Mark Milligan, James Troisi and Kosta Barbarouses to international duty, put in a performance suggesting they are again likely to be one of Sydney’s chief rivals for the title, especially when at full-strength.
Sydney’s Luke Wilkshire struggled at times in the first half, but the former Socceroos fullback was instrumental in the goal.
His 53rd-minute cross in the direction of Alex Brosque was pinpoint.
Although Brosque could only get the slightest of headers on it, the deflection was enough to throw off Deng, who watched as the ball ricocheted off his shin and past a stranded Lawrence Thomas.
Wilkshire almost made it 2-0 four minutes later after an exquisite Milos Ninkovic back heel played him through, but a lunging Thomas save denied it.
Sydney were off the pace for the first 25 minutes, but once they got a foot in the game Graham Arnold’s team largely appeared in control, carving out the lion’s share of the giltedged chances and winning the possession battle.
“There was very, very little in the game,” Victory coack Kevin Muscat said.
“In the first period we creat- ed a lot of opportunities where some more quality in that last pass would have created a good goal scoring opportunity.
“In the second half we knocked and knocked and (Sydney) defended desperately because they had to.”
The Victory debut of Leroy George was a highlight.
Recruited primarily as a winger, the Dutchman was used in the No.10 role last night with Troisi away and his third-minute nutmeg of Wilkshire had fans chanting “Leroy, Leroy” right away. SYDNEY FC 1 (Thomas Deng 53m og) d MELBOURNE VICTORY 0 at Etihad Stadium. Crowd: 24,804.