W-League: Victory edge past Canberra United

A stunning late goal from the in-form Caitlin Friend has helped the Melbourne Victory to a crucial 2-1 Westfield W-League win over Canberra United at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday.

A stunning late goal from the in-form Caitlin Friend has helped the Melbourne Victory to a crucial 2-1 Westfield W-League win over Canberra United at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday.

The two top-four bound sides appeared to be headed for a hard-earned point after Kendall Fletcher cancelled out Lisa De Vanna's controversial opener.

But the home side produced one last moment of magic with just seven minutes left to secure a valuable three points.

De Vanna played a pinpoint ball into the box to substitute Cindy Lay, who turned and cut the ball back to Friend who blasted a spectacular volley into the far corner of the net.

It was Friend's seventh goal of the W-League season and ensures the Victory maintain their five-point lead at the top of the ladder, although Sydney FC have two games in hand.

Victory's unbeaten run also now stretches to seven games and they are now all but assured of a finals berth.

For Canberra, they have slumped to back-to-back defeats but they will feel unlucky not to have come away with anything from the match after contributing to an entertaining encounter.

It was the home side that made the better start and they went close to opening the scoring inside three minutes.

The dangerous De Vanna sent a cross in from the left which Jess Fishlock managed to tap around 'keeper Lydia Williams but just too far ahead to get a telling shot on goal.

While the Victory were dominating the possession it was the visitors who were getting the better sights on goal.

Ashleigh Sykes was causing the Victory defence problems and had a couple of shooting chances before Stephanie Ochs was a whisker away from a stunning opener.

Ochs cut inside from the left and hit a curving right-foot shot from just outside the box which beat Brianna Davey but crashed onto the crossbar.

But it was the Victory who finished the half the stronger and they were unlucky not to take a lead to the break.

Both Fishlock and Gulcan Koca failed to test Williams with shots from just outside the box while De Vanna wasted a one-on-one chance after pouncing on a defensive error.

The Matildas attacker made up for that miss though immediately after the break.

Fishlock produced a defence-splitting pass to send her clear and with the Canberra defence appealing for offside De Vanna streaked away and finished clinically.

If that decision infuriated the visitors they were ropeable a minute later when Fletcher nodded home a free-kick only to be denied by the assistant referee's flag.

But the former Victory defender wouldn't be denied midway through the second half.

Michelle Heyman flicked on a corner, with Fletcher free at the back post to control on her chest before blasting into the net from close range.

Both sides had chances to take the result from that point but it was Friend who had the final say, underlining her potential with a brilliant finish to settle the issue.

Melbourne Victory 2 (De Vanna 47, Friend 83) Canberra United 1 (Fletcher 66)

@ Lakeside Stadium