A-League 2017/18: Phoenix struck down in comeback disaster

Two teams with wretched starts to the season played out an open contest that reflected their out-of-sorts ability so far, but it was the Victory who emerged with a much-needed three points at Westpac Stadium.

Kevin Muscat’s men did enough to secure the win against a Nix side who proved yet again that they cannot hold a lead in this campaign. This crucial away result could prove to be the one that turns Melbourne’s season around.

Victory created the better chances throughout the contest, with Besart Berisha and Leroy George both missing clear cut opportunities.

Wellington have not found their feet under new coach Darije Kalezic and this latest loss heaps even more pressure on. Clearly, the defence needs to improve if the Phoenix want to avoid the wooden spoon.

VAR drama yet again

It looked like Kosta Barbarouses had returned to haunt his former employers yet again when he played Berisha through for the Albanian to score. However, he was adjudged to have been the merest of inches offside following a long review. Replays were inconclusive, with some angles seeming to show Berisha level with opposition right-back Scott Galloway as the pass from Barbarouses was fed through. Yet the VAR panel made the decision to overrule the goal, and controversy about the system will continue.

Two goals, two headers, two minutes

That was all it took for Andrezj Kaluderovic to steer two well taken goals past the despairing dives of Victory custodian Lawrence Thomas. The goalkeeper had no chance to save, as the precision and power generated in each of the headers was too perfect on both occasions. The first came following a cross from right-back Galloway and the second delivered from left-back Thomas Doyle. Both returning defenders showed the bottom placed Nix what they had been missing by providing assists, as Ali Abbas and Daniel Mullen were left on the bench.

Second half belongs to the Victory

Melbourne responded early in the second half. After struggling to score goals so far this season, Muscat’s team had two in the back of the net in a matter of minutes themselves. First Berisha pounced on a Barbarouses rebound, then Goran Paracki turned one into his own net shortly after. Once again poor defending by the Phoenix proved their downfall. The team that started the game with the worst goal difference and at the bottom of the table were showing their lack of form. The comeback was completed with under 10 minutes to go, as James Troisi finished off a Berisha through ball.