Melbourne Victory have signalled this season’s Premiership race is far from over after dismantling the Central Coast Mariners 4-1 at a humid AAMI Park on Wednesday night.
Kevin Muscat’s side dominated proceedings from the outset and deservedly took the lead when Jake McGing was forced to turn into his own net, denying Besart Berisha the chance to become the league’s outright all-time leading scorer.
Defender James Donachie netted his first Victory goal after the interval to extend the home side’s advantage before two goals in as many minutes from Marco Rojas sealed the result.
Fahid Ben Khalfallah was in scintillating form for Victory, having a hand in three of his side’s four goals, while Trent Buhagiar hit his first Hyundai A-League goal to register a late consolation for the visitors.
The result sees Melbourne Victory reclaim second spot and move within seven points of Sydney FC on the ladder – still with a game in hand, while the Mariners remain ninth after being consigned to their fourth straight loss.
1-0 Melbourne Victory: Jake McGing OG, 28’
A sloppy turnover from the Mariners playing out from the back allowed Ben Khalfallah to break downfield. The Tunisian squared the ball for Berisha whose touch was directed into the Mariners net by McGing as he tried to get back in cover.
2-0 Melbourne Victory: James Donachie, 50’
James Troisi delivered a deft free-kick into the Mariners box which found the Victory defender inexplicably unmarked inside the box. Donachie had all the time he needed to direct his header downwards towards goal giving Paul Izzo no chance.
3-0 Melbourne Victory: Marco Rojas, 58’
The Mariners were cheaply dispossessed on halfway by Berisha who quickly fed Ben Khalfallah as Victory again hit their opponents in transition. The 34-year-old zeroed in on goal before unselfishly playing in Rojas for a tap in.
4-0 Melbourne Victory: Marco Rojas 59’
Ben Khalfallah was again the architect for the home side with his chip over the top finding the ‘Kiwi Messi’ in plenty of space. Rojas maintained his composure, slotting the ball past Izzo to register his seventh goal of the campaign.
4-1 Central Coast Mariners: Trent Buhagiar, 89’
A quickly taken free-kick from Mariners skipper Nick Montgomery found his pacey teenage winger in space behind Victory’s defence. Buhagiar held his nerve in front of goal, chipping the onrushing Thomas to give the Mariners’ travelling fans something to cheer.
Victory extended their unbeaten run to six matches and they’ve not been beaten by Central Coast in ten games.
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