A-League look out: the Muscat is out of the bag.
New Melbourne coach Kevin Muscat showed he’s keen to maintain the attacking principles laid down by his predecessor Ange Postecoglou as the Victory bagged three quick goals in their 3-2 win over Wellington.
The scoreline belied Victory’s dominance, the home side leading 3-0 thanks to a double from James Troisi and another goal from Archie Thompson before a spirited Phoenix comeback provided late drama.
Thompson and Adama Traore exploited the left wing brilliantly for the Victory, with Mitch Nichols and Troisi running rampant through a non-existent Phoenix midfield.
It took Victory only nine minutes to find their first goal, with Mark Milligan darting a ball through to Thompson behind the Phoenix back four.
Such was the precision, Thompson had time to trap, assess and curl a neat finish past Glenn Moss for his first goal of the season.
Victory’s forward pressure paid off again 13 minutes later when Andrew Durante’s weak header was intercepted by the lurking Troisi who made no mistake from the resulting one-on-one.
If the New Zealanders could claim an assist for that attack, they were spectators for Troisi’s second.
Kostas Barbarouses had the ball on a string before playing in Troisi, who dinked the ball past Moss to make it 3-0 after just 31 minutes.
The game won, there was nothing left for Victory to do but attempt to lose it.
It was a shock to see Jeremy Brockie in clean possession running towards goal and even more so when he netted after 37 minutes.
Victory had a number of chances from set pieces in the second half but couldn’t increase their lead, the Phoenix then clawing back the margin to a goal with seven minutes left to play when Paul Ifill pounced on a loose ball.
But that was as good as it got for the visitors.
Muscat said the first half hour was as good as he’d seen.
“Starting off, I thought this was pretty easy after thirty minutes but they gave us a good run for our money second half,” he said.
“There was loads of positives going forward in that first half.”
Phoenix boss Ernie Merrick all but admitted he got his set-up wrong, using two players with midfield backgrounds as full-backs.
“The plan actually wasn’t to play a high line, it was when we had the ball to push up and as they received the ball to drop off,” Merrick said.
“That’s what we spoke about at half-time and it’s when our midfield got control of the game.”