Hyundai A-League - 2011/2012 - Season 7

Daniel Quinn also reports from Melbourne
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Wellington Walloped
by Mercurial Melbourne
By Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 24
8:00pm, Friday 16 March, 2012
at Melbourne Football Stadium

Melbourne Victory FC 3
(Carlos Hernandez 11', Isaka Cernak 58', Jimmy Jeggo 89'')

Wellington Phoenix FC 0

With the pressure off them after having missed out on the Hyundai A-League play-offs, Melbourne Victory finally played to their potential at AAMI Park on 16 March, walloping Wellington Phoenix 3-0 to quash the visitors’ hopes of winning the minor premiership.

The home team engineered the first opening of the match in the fifth minute, with Harry Kewell’s flick-on of Tando Velaphi’s clearance allowing Archie Thompson to stride through on goal, something he was to do with great frequency throughout this match.

On this occasion, the combined efforts of Andrew Durante and Mark Paston thwarted his progress, the ’keeper saving at his feet. But Paston’s reactions were nowhere near as effective in the eleventh minute - indeed, they were non-existent!

Fabio swooped on a wayward Wellington pass and immediately fed Thompson, who steered the ball into the stride of Carlos Hernandez, whose final appearance on home turf this was expected to be.

From twenty-five yards, the Costa Rican let loose an absolute screamer which Paston didn’t even move for as it zoomed into the top corner of the net, to the undisguised delight of the majority of the 11,231 present.

Melbourne swiftly looked to build on their early advantage. Hernandez flighted in a free-kick from the left just two minutes after the goal, and Thompson should have done better than to direct his header straight at Paston, who then smothered another effort from the New Zealand-born striker sixty seconds later after Kewell had sent him scampering through with a peach of a pass.

Wellington weren’t at the races at this stage of proceedings, but while Marco Rojas was reeling from an uncompromising Manny Muscat challenge - the ex-Wellington player was later found to have broken his jaw in the incident - the visitors engineered their first opening of the match.

Tim Brown played the ball wide to Tony Lochhead, whose pass inside to Paul Ifill allowed the striker to turn and let fly from just outside the area. The ball flew inches past the right-hand upright of Velaphi, who was making his first appearance of an injury-hit season.

Rojas’ replacement, Isaka Cernak, was swiftly involved in proceedings, linking with Thompson to present Hernandez with a 21st minute opening, although he rode his luck en route to goal, courtesy a couple of welcome ricochets going his way. The striker was less fortunate with his shot, however, the ball creeping narrowly past Paston’s right-hand post.

Only a superb recovering tackle by Durante denied Thompson as he wriggled through Wellington’s defence just shy of the half-hour mark, while just after it, the woodwork denied the mercurial number ten, after some delightful play by Kewell allowed Thompson to give Durante and Ben Sigmund the runaround before he checked and shot past Paston. The post came to Wellington’s rescue on this occasion.

The visitors were distinctly second best in this encounter, but in Ifill had a player well capable of retrieving the situation. In the 34th minute, his charge downfield was halted by the well-performed Mark Milligan’s tackle, but Chris Greenacre picked up the pieces and evaded a challenge before crossing to Brown, who directed his header across the face of goal.

Seven minutes later, Brown was denied by a super Velaphi save, the ‘keeper diving to his left to deny the midfielder after Ifill had got in behind the defence and pulled the ball back for his team-mate to attempt to equalise.

Thompson came within inches of giving Melbourne a two-goal cushion in the shadows of the half-time whistle. Played in by Hernandez, the striker did everything right in beating an opponent before lifting the ball over Paston. But his effort drifted the wrong side of the post …

Wellington began the second half brightly, and within eight minutes of resuming had carved out three chances to level the scores. Inevitably, Ifill was involved in all three openings, his 47th minute pass to Ifill inviting the fullback to whip in a cross to the far post, where Brown was arriving. He guided his looping header over the bar.

Five minutes later, Lochhead’s long throw-in was controlled by Ifill at the near post, but the massed ranks of Melbourne’s rearguard prevented him from getting a shot on target, at the expense of a corner. Ifill’s delivery picked out Brown, whose header was grabbed by Velaphi.

Melbourne responded with a host of chances of their own, Kewell leading the way with a wickedly struck dipping twenty-five yarder on the turn which narrowly cleared the bar in the 55th minute.

Seconds later, Fabio, Cernak and Hernandez combined, the last-mentioned turning two defenders in the penalty area to leave himself one-on-one with Paston. Hernandez promptly set up Thompson for what should have been a gift second goal, but the striker directed his effort too near the recovering figure of Paston, who blocked the shot to safety.

The relief was only temporary for Wellington, however, for Melbourne doubled their lead in the 58th minute. Kewell sparked the move with a cheeky back-heeled one-two with Thompson, whose pass sold his European Cup-winning team-mate short.

Lively midfielder Jimmy Jeggo picked up the pieces and promptly sent Thompson tearing away down the right with a gem of a pass which the striker took on in his stride prior to delivering an inviting cross towards the far post. Cernak was ghosting in behind the defence and gleefully steered home to make it 2-0.

Now Wellington were really up against it, but apart from a swerving twenty-five yarder from Lochhead just after the hour mark, they didn’t produce any attacks worthy of mention in the next twenty minutes, unlike their opponents, who had their tails up!

Another Kewell back-heel, this one on the hour, allowed Hernandez to surge through the middle before slipping Thompson in once more. And once more, Paston denied him, the striker seemingly destined not to score against the team from the land of his birth.

Further evidence that this was destined to be the case materialised five minutes later, at the sharp end of a move deserving of better fate. Hernandez and Thompson worked a one-two which resulted in the former playing in Fabio on the left. His low cross wasn’t cleared, and Thompson swooped, only to direct his volley inches over the top.

Fifteen minutes from time, Hernandez flighted an angled cross beyond the far post into a spot where Cernak was arriving at breakneck pace. The substitute’s difficult volley was tipped over the bar at full stretch by Paston, without whom Wellington would have copped a right royal hiding - they were well and truly outplayed in this match, make no mistake!

They had the chance to reduce the deficit eight minutes from time, however, and no prizes for guessing who was at the heart of the attack. Ifill swooped on an error by Ubay Luzardo and evaded a couple of challenges before lashing a low drive towards the far corner of the net. Velaphi smothered the effort as substitute Mirjan Pavlovic closed in, anticipating a spill by the ‘keeper.

Velaphi’s handling was sound, however, although his distribution was often wayward. But his team-mates more than made up for it, and a concerted attack six minutes from time culminated in Jeggo setting up Matthew Foschini for a cross, which would have been bad had substitute Julius Davies not made it look good with a fine piece of skill. He deserved better than to see his shot blocked by Muscat.

Davies’ reward was to be involved in the final act of note in the match, but one well worth waiting for. Jeggo sparked this last-minute move with a cross-field ball to his debutant team-mate, who cleverly held play up before picking out Thompson’s incisive run in behind the defence.

The striker, upon receipt of the pass, promptly set up Jeggo, who was following up and fair walloped a first-time effort from twenty yards which crashed into the back of the net via the angle of near post and crossbar - a simply unstoppable strike which capped off a fine Melbourne victory by a 3-0 scoreline, leaving one to wonder why they hadn’t played as well as this throughout the season.

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 24
8:00pm, Friday 16 March, 2012
at Melbourne Football Stadium

Melbourne Victory FC 3
(Carlos Hernandez 11', Isaka Cernak 58', Jimmy Jeggo 89'')

Wellington Phoenix FC 0



    Melbourne Victory FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Tando Velaphi (GK), 2. Matthew Foschini, 3. Fabio, 5. Mark Milligan, 10. Archie Thompson, 11. Marco Rojas (19. Isaka Cernak 19'), 13. Diogo Ferreira, 16. Carlos Hernandez (4. Petar Franjic 90'), 17. Jimmy Jeggo, 22, Harry Kewell © (29. Julius Davies 80'), 28. Ubay Luzardo

    Substitutes not used: 21. Ante Covic (rgk)

    Coach: Jim Magilton

    Yellow Cards: Jeggo 90+2'
    Red Cards:Nil

    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Mark Paston (GK), 2. Manny Muscat, 3. Tony Lochhead, 6. Tim Brown, 8. Paul Ifill, 9. Chris Greenacre (14. Mirjan Pavlovic 64'), 17. Vince Lia, 18. Ben Sigmund, 21. Dani Sanchez (12. Nick Ward 71'), 22. Andrew Durante ©, 24. Alex Smith (7. Leo Bertos 65')

    Substitutes not used: 20. Tony Warner (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Lia 25', Lochhead 41', Greenacre 63', Ifill 90+3'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Chris Beath 6/10
    Assistant Referees: Luke Brennan, George Lakrindis; Fourth official: Lucien Laverdure

    BOTN Player Points:
    > 3. Carlos Hernandez (MV)
    2. Archie Thompson (MV)
    1. Jimmy Jeggo (MV) - Milligan, Kewell and Foschini were also strong contenders for points.

    Pitch rating: 7/10

    Game rating: 7/10

    Match Report and ratings: By Jeremy Ruane

Disclaimer: The content of this report is the responsibility of the writer. Stats are either as recorded by the writer at the game, or as supplied by FFA, or a mixture - no responsibility can be taken for their compete accuracy although we do strive for that. Any photos used here, unless attributed, are as implicitly supplied by FFA and used by assumed permission.

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