Melbourne Victory earned three big points at home on Tuesday night, taking down Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1 at AAMI Park in a rescheduled match. There was no repeat of the pre-game violence that marred their last affair, so this time the story lines were all on the pitch and on the weather report. Game-time temperatures of 104 Fahrenheit would have made for a miserable night out, if not for the home side's strong second half performance. Archie Thompson, Kosta Barbarouses and Guy Finkler each scored after halftime as the Victory knocked off Western Sydney.
While the heat was certainly a factor, it was no hotter than a midday game at Perth Glory can often be. The biggest influence on the game was the lack of star power from either side with Mark Milligan, Mitch Nichols and Pablo Contreras missing for the Victory and Youssouf Hersi, Tomi Juric and Shinji Ono all starting on the bench for the Wanderers. Coupling those absences with four Victory youngsters in Oman with Australia's U22s made for a makeshift kind of night at AAMI Park. Andrew Nabbout then required substitution in the 14th minute when he departed with a head injury inflicted by Dean Heffernan.
A scoreless first half was quickly forgotten as Thompson scored the opener after just seven second half minutes. Rashid Mahazi and Barbarouses were involved in the build-up before the Thompson beat Ante Covic to the far post. Ten minutes later it was Barbarouses who got on the score sheet after Leigh Broxham played the Kiwi international through on goal. Tony Popovic belatedly introduced Hersi (between the first two goals), Juric and Ono, changes that jumpstarted the Wanderers' attack a bit too late. Juric finally got Western Sydney a goal, assisted by Hersi, but four minutes into injury time. It was immediately answered by Guy Finkler, restoring the Victory's two-goal advantage and crushing any hopes of a dramatic, last-second equalizer.
Melbourne are off to New Zealand where they'll play Wellington Pheonix at the Cake Tin on Saturday. The Wanderers are at Adelaide United on Sunday.
MVC Thompson (Barbarouses) 52'
MVC Barbarouses (Broxham) 62'
WSW Juri (Hersi) 94'
MVC Finkler (Troisi) 95'
Melbourne Victory: Coe; Murnane, Traore, Leijer, Broxham; Jeggo (Brown 81'), Mahazi; Nabbout (Finkler 14'), Thompson (Makarounas 76'), Troisi; Barbarouses
Unused substitutes: Thomas, Ridesic
Western Sydney Wanderers: Covic; D'Apuzzo, Topor-Stanley, Beauchamp, Heffernan; Trifiro, Mooy; Minniecon (Ono 71'), Bridge, Appiah (Hersi 56'); Santalab (Juric 59')
Unused substitutes: Tyson, Alessi