Melbourne Victory played their final home game of the season and ended it the right way, recording a 3-0 win over Wellington Phoenix in front of 12,000 at AAMI Park. Carlos Hernandez, Isaka Cernak and Jimmy Jeggo all recorded goals against a well below par travelling Wellington side.
1. There’s something bout Carlos…
Plenty of speculation surrounds the Victory champion’s future at the club, but he gave a reminder of what he still can do with a stunning goal outside the box. What was promising about his game was that he looked willing to run at times and it opened up and created for Victory. There have been stories over the past week over his future in the Melbourne Herald Sun and my gut feeling is that he will leave.
2. Unlucky Archie
It was amazing/frustrating in equal measure watching Archie Thompson miss several chances. With a mix of some good last-ditch defending and just bad luck, he wouldn’t end up in the score sheet but would play a part in all three Victory goals. His last goal was on January 13 this year against Adelaide United. He has been lively up front in recent games, and has to be wondering what more he needs to do to score.
3. Team goals
All three Victory goals came from great build-up work and were rewarded with sublime finishes by Jimmy Jeggo, Carlos Hernandez and Isaka Cernak. Jeggo set up Victory’s second with a defence splitting pass wide to Archie Thompson, who would cross and find Isaka Cernak to tip in. Fabio and Thompson would combine for Jeggo to score one of his own, right in the top corner off the post. All well worked and reflected most of the play on the night.
4. What does the result mean?
I don’t think any game can mean nothing. It was good to see Victory trying to play the ball on the ground, but it is still clear more needs to be done. They played with no pressure or expectations and it showed. It was a chance for Tando Velaphi to make his Victory debut (and keep a clean sheet) and a chance to farewell Tommy Pondlejak (pre-game) and possibly Carlos Hernandez. It may mean something for Jim Magilton as he looks to prove he is the man for the job.
5. Great send off for fans
It was interesting to read Adrian Leijer’s article in the Herald Sun on the day of the game, saying that “We, as players, accept sole responsibility for the position we are in…we acknowledge that we have let down our fans.” Attending games this season, it has been clear how angry and saddened fans have been this season, an abject failure. Which is why it was great for fans to see a 3-0 win, nothing more than what the league’s biggest and loyal fan base deserved.
1. Poor overall
I tipped Wellington to finish second last. Yes, rub it in. They have surprised me; they have been extraordinary considering where they were pre-season. But this weekend saw Phoenix drop off, never getting into the game and very lax in midfield. Too much space was given to Hernandez and co. as chance after chance was conceded, they paid big time by losing 3-0. Whether that paints a broader picture for their upcoming finals series, I don’t really think so.
2. Early second half moments
Phoenix’s moments came at the beginning in the second half. Victory looked half-asleep from the break and Phoenix came into it. They wouldn’t take advantage of the Victory lull however, not making the most of their possession. That was about all Phoenix would get from Victory. I thought this looked a one-off performance from the slow Nix, and they will be a major threat, especially at home.
3. Manny Muscat
The Phoenix defender/midfielder would end Marco Rojas’s night early with a crushing tackle on the talented Kiwi, leaving him with a broken jaw and concussion. How the referee decided that wasn’t worthy of a card is beyond me. Muscat is an important player for Phoenix, and he walks a fine line with his physicality at times. This was a line-crosser, just in my view.
4. The midfield
Biggest issue that came out of this performance, for mine, was the midfield. Too much space was given to Jeggo and Hernandez, and that contributed to all three goals conceded. Durante and Sigmund battled, but weren’t well served by their midfield. Tim Brown, Dani Sanchez and Vince Lia were below par and were outdone by the Victory midfield of Jeggo, Milligan and Hernandez. Phoenix are going to need a much better effort in coming weeks.
5. Fruitless Melbourne sojourns
Wellington’s trips to Melbourne haven’t seen much luck for Phoenix - 3-0 and 3-1 losses to Victory, and a 1-1 draw and 1-0 loss (in the regional town of Morwell) to Heart have been the results for the Kiwi club, ones which I think they’d want to forget. This is what makes a home final very important for them. Who they play will be even more intriguing, will it be Heart or either of Newcastle or Sydney? Enjoy your football.