Brave Victory snatch a point

A rare Rody Vargas goal has rescued a point for 10-man Melbourne Victory in Wellington but it could have so nearly been all three points for the reigning Hyundai A-League champions following a fantastic late fightback.

A rare Rody Vargas goal has rescued a point for 10-man Melbourne Victory in Wellington but it could have so nearly been all three points for the reigning Hyundai A-League champions following a fantastic late fightback.

The Victory appeared headed for only their third loss in the past 13 matches when, after being reduced to 10 men when Nick Ward was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 39th minute, Wellington took the lead through Tim Brown in the 57th minute.

But after having been second best for much of the game, Melbourne dominated the final twenty minutes despite being a man down and scored a richly deserved equaliser through Vargas in the 86th minute.

Vargas superbly met a corner from Leigh Broxham and powered his header across Wellington keeper Mark Pasten into the far corner.

It was only the 31-year-old's fourth goal in 83 matches for Melbourne but could not have come at a better time.

And with the Phoenix suddenly on the back foot, Melbourne swarmed all over the home side in search of a winner with Archie Thompson coming close on two occasions in the 88th and 89th minutes with his first shot saved low down by Pasten while his second - a toe poke following confusion in the home side's defence - rolled agonisingly wide.

Up against arguably the Hyundai A-League's most improved team this season with Wellington not having lost at home in over a year - a run of 13 matches - Melbourne was outplayed for much of the first half.

But there were few clear chances in the first half with Melbourne's best chance coming when a Thompson header appeared goalbound in the 35th minute only to be blocked at the near post.

From the resultant corner Victory defender Adrian Leijer appeared to be punched in the face behind play by Wellington defender Ben Sigmund but the referee did not see the incident and so no action was taken.

But just three minutes later Melbourne was down to 10 men when Ward was sent off for a second bookable offence for pulling the shirt of Troy Hearfield.

Wellington had enjoyed 64 percent of the possession in the first half but rarely looked like breaking down a Melbourne defence that had come into the game on the back of two clean sheets since Ernie Merrick's decision to replace Glenn Moss with Mitch Langerak in goal.

However after Tom Pondeljak replaced Robbie Kruse at half-time in a tactical switch, Melbourne started the second half far sharper and almost went ahead twice when Thompson had a shock blocked in the 52nd minute before he set up a perfect shooting opportunity for Carlos Hernandez two minutes later.

Hernandez' shot was goalbound but was superbly blocked by Hearfield but it was Wellington that took the lead three minutes later when Brown rose above Victory skipper Kevin Muscat and powered home an unstoppable header following a perfect cross from Leo Bertos.

But Melbourne fought back superbly in the final 20 minutes and Vargas' late equaliser extends the Victory's lead at the top of the table to six points although Sydney FC will be favoured to cut that to three points by the end of the round given it is home to lowly North Queensland in Round 17.

Melbourne Victory: 1 (Vargas 86) Wellington Phoenix: 1 (Brown 57) Crowd: 8,200 at Westpac Stadium