Two classy goals have handed Western United a 2-1 win over local rivals Melbourne Victory and maintained their A-League hot streak despite a four-month break.
After scoring 11 goals in their last two games before the competition was shut down in March, many wondered if the lengthy break might stall United’s momentum.
But there was little sign of that at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night, as they moved up one spot to seventh, just a point behind sixth-placed Adelaide with two games in hand.
“Today we played some really, really good football, you know, considering it’s been such a long time, I was pretty happy with the performance of the players,” United coach Mark Rudan said.
Tomislav Uskok’s fine left-footed finish from a well-worked corner routine put United ahead in the 38th minute.
Max Burgess doubled their lead in the 57th minute with an unstoppable half-volley after Connor Pain had chested a Josh Risdon cross into his path.
Former Victory striker Besart Berisha almost added a third with a stinging shot which was well saved by Matt Acton, before Storm Roux pulled a goal back seven minutes from time by glancing a header into the net from a Marco Rojas corner.
Victory have won just one of their last ten games and United completed a three-match season sweep over the glamour club.
“That’s a real statement, particularly after the first time we played them coming back from two-nil, to win three two,” Rudan said.
“We spoke about beating them three times this year, what I still believe is the biggest club in the country, so I think it’s a fantastic effort from our football club.”
Roux’s goal apart Victory had a number of opportunities during the game.
A few minutes before the goal, substitute and debutant Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio’s shot from the edge of area was well saved by Filip Kurto.
In the first half, Rojas got behind the defence but put his shot wide, while Andrew Nabbout was off target with another effort.
“The result obviously wasn’t what we wanted but we finished on a high with getting the goal and the way we started to play towards the end,” said interim Victory coach Grant Brebner after his first A-League game in charge
“But of course we need to start the game better, we need to be braver in the first half, I think we took the easy option at times.”
Brebner confirmed a European club had contacted Victory about goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas, but no deal has been done.