Finkler magic snatches draw for Victory

by Tomasz Ng:

Hyundai A-League 2013/14, Round 12

7:45pm, Friday 28 December – AAMI Park, Melbourne

Melbourne Victory FC 1 (Gui Finkler 90’+4) 

drew with

Western Sydney Wanderers  FC 1 (Brendon Santalab 71’)

A sumptous free kick from Gui Finkler secured a deserved point for Melbourne Victory, as they played out a 1-1 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers.

Having made several changes to his line-up, Tony Popovic would have been delighted to see his side go ahead thanks to Brendan Santalab.

But just as it seemed like Wanderers were going to take three points, Finkler produced a moment of magic to send the majority of the 22,133 strong crowd into delirium.

Victory would have been delighted to have rescued a point, as they had plenty of chances to win it in an even battle.

Connor Pain started the goalmouth action with a low drive from range in the third minute, but Ante Covic was more than equal to the task.

His opposite number Nathan Coe was also kept busy, as Labinot Haliti had a couple of efforts at goal.

The striker got on the end of a wonderful cross by Jerome Polenz in the tenth minute, and forced the Victory custodian into a wonderful reflex save with a header.

Victory then created their best chance of the match in the 19th minute when Kosta Barbarouses broke free in behind the Wanderers defence and delivered a teasing ball across the goal for Connor Pain.

With Covic sucked into diving for a ball he couldn’t reach, Pain only had to tap the ball home but the winger slid on his backside and fluffed the chance.

It was then James Troisi’s turn to squander a great chance, after Mitch Nichols had managed to get to the byline and squared it to his partner in crime, but Troisi skied his shot over the bar.

Wanderers then replied with quick counter attacking moves which they are known for.

Tahj Minniecon was the main outlet on the left wing, consistently beating Jason Geria with ease.

His cross in the 40th minute found Haliti in the area, but again the striker couldn’t find the back of the net, sending his final shot well wide after his first was blocked.

Troisi then fashioned another chance in first half stoppage time when his shot on goal was parried into the path of Connor Pain, but Polenz was on hand to clear the danger.

It was puzzling as to how the scoreline read 0-0 at half time, as both sides had clear cut chances to score.

Victory came out better after the break and had a big shout for a penalty turned down when Mark Milligan’s shot was handled in the area by Nikolai Topor-Stanley.

Wanderers also had their own penalty shout waved away when Minniecon’s shot was saved by a diving Adrian Leijer, who had stuck his arms out.

For all their impressive build up play, Victory were unable to carve out any clear openings and were hit by a Wanderers sucker punch in the 71st minute.

Milligan was caught in possession by Minniecon and the winger sent a defence splitting through ball for Santalab, who simply slotted the ball under the on-rushing Coe to give Wanderers the lead.

It was Santalab’s first touch of the game, having been brought on just a minute earlier.

Victory would have been forgiven to think it was just not going to be their day, having lost in similar circumstances when the two sides met earlier in the season in Parramatta.

The home side kept on pressing however and carved out several chances without taking them.

Nichols had the best chance of the lot, when he was found in the middle of the area by Traore, but the attacking midfielder’s shot was somehow deflected over the bar.

Andew Nabbout then sent Wanderers a warning sign when he went close with ninety seconds of injury time played after a swerving long shot went just wide.

From almost the same spot on the pitch, Victory won a free kick a minute later and with what seemed was going to be the last attack of the match, Finkler decided to take a direct shot at goal.

The Brazilian maestro found the top left hand corner, and left a sprawling Covic with no chance and Victory escaped with a deserved point.

Match Stats:

Crowd: 22,133


Melbourne Victory FC:

1. Nathan Coe [GK], 2. Pablo Contreras (24. Scott Galloway +51’), 3. Adama Traore, 5. Mark Milligan (c), 6. Leigh Broxham, 9. Kosta Barbarouses, 11. Connor Pain, 14. James Troisi (7. Guilherme Finkler +64’), 15. Mitch Nichols, 23. Adrian Leijer, 25. Jason Geria (13. Andrew Nabbout  +73’)

Unused Substitutes: 20. Lawrence Thomas [GK], 17. James Jeggo

Yellow Cards: Milligan 69’

Red Cards: Nil

Western Sydney Wanderers FC:

1. Ante Covic [GK], 3. Adam D’Apuzzo, 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 6. Jerome Polenz, 7. Labinot Haliti, 8. Mateo Poljak, 12. Tahj Minniecon (22. Dean Heffernan +77’), 13. Matthew Spiranovic, 14. Kwabena Appiah (17. Youssouf Hersi +58’), 18. Iacopo La Rocca, 23. Jason Trifiro (11. Brendan Santalab +68’)

Unused Substitutes: 20. Jerrad Tyson [GK], 31. Alusine Fofanah

Yellow Cards: Spiranovic 22’, La Rocca 74’, Poljak 82’

Red Cards: Nil

Referee: Peter Green

Assistants: Luke Brennan, Brad Hobson; 4th – Lucien Laverdure


Pitch Rating: 10/10

Game Rating: 9/10

Player Points:

3. Tahj Minniecon

2. Mitch Nichols

1. Gui Finkler


By Tomasz Ng