Melbourne Victory are within touch of a third premiership after two first half goals saw off Brisbane Roar 2-1 at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
Carl Valeri and Besart Berisha netted within five minutes of each other as Kevin Muscat’s side moved three points clear of second-placed Sydney FC.
Berisha sealed the win against his old side despite Matt McKay pulling one back shortly after the restart.
WHAT THEY SAID
"We started well in the first-half, I think we got that intensity back we'd been lacking from the Newcastle game. We'll recover tomorrow morning, we'll have a look at this match and although it's the same team it's a different match on Saturday." - Melbourne Victory captain Mark Milligan
"We're always going for the win, tonight was like a preview for the finals for us. It's a disappointing result for us, we've got two fixtures left to try get six points and we're going for six points." -Brisbane Roar captain Matt McKay
0-1 Carl Valeri (17’) – Victory stroked the ball around nicely in attack as Fahid Ben Khalfallah looked inside to find Valeri. The former Socceroos midfielder needed no invitation to shoot, taking a quick touch before fizzing a low drive into the bottom corner.
0-2 Besart Berisha (22’) - Berisha netted the goal the occasion demanded but as usual it belonged to Ben Khalfallah, who delicately lifted a pass over the top for the Albanian to clinically convert.
1-2 Matt McKay (51’) – The skipper stood up to drag Brisbane back into the contest shortly after the restart by surging forward, collecting a one-two with Andrija Kaluderovic and finishing across Lawrence Thomas at the near post.
Lawrence Thomas hardly inspired confidence throughout the first 45 minutes, but managed to make a crucial reaction save to keep the visitors level just two minutes before they opened the scoring.
Luke Brattan’s deflected free kick almost wrongfooted Thomas, auditioning to replace the injured Nathan Coe, but the 22-year-old recovered his body shape in time to palm away the firm effort and set the platform for his side’s five-minute salvo.
Besart Berisha and Fahid Ben Khalfallah have dovetailed all season to devastating effect and while the star striker won the headlines on his return to Suncorp Stadium, it was no surprise who pulled the strings for Victory’s glorious second.
Roar afforded the Tunisian international too much time in a central area as he lifted a delightful chip over the home defence for Berisha to make it 2-0 in the 22nd minute.
Talented winger Brandon Borrello was a late withdrawal from Brisbane Roar’s squad after a reported knee injury in the pre-match warm up, costing Frans Thijssen attacking thrust as his replacement Dimitri Petratos failed to impact the contest.
Socceroos defender Luke DeVere also limped off with a late quad complaint as the Queensland club’s injury toll continues to mount.
THE FINAL WORD
Brisbane Roar aren’t accustomed to being outclassed but that’s exactly what Kevin Muscat’s Melbourne Victory achieved in the first of a double header.
The title favourites two first half goals were both of a high class, while Nick Ansell and Mathieu Delpierre barely afforded the in-form Andrija Kaluderovic a sight on goal at the other end.
Set to meet again on Saturday night, the home side need to find more avenues to goal.
Brisbane Roar: Young (gk), Hingert, DeVere (Jackson 84’), Donachie, Brown, Brattan, Broich, McKay, Petratos (Brady 75’), Kaluderovic, Solorzano (Lustica 64’).
Melbourne Victory: Thomas (gk), Geria (Mahazi 75’), Ansell, Delpierre, Georgievski, Milligan, Broxham, Valeri, Barbarouses (Thompson 77’), Berisha, Ben Khalfallah.
Scorers: Valeri 17’, Berisha 22’, McKay 51’
Red Cards: Nil
Yellow Cards: Milligan 19’, Berisha 20’, Broxham 23’, Barbarouses 41’, Donachie 90’+3