Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat has hailed his team's fighting spirit and two-goal hero Oliver Bozanic for getting the champions' season back on track with a 2-0 win over league leaders Western Sydney Wanderers.
Melbourne Victory find their hero in Bozanic
Melbourne Victory marquee Oliver Bozanic stings Western Sydneyâs A-League premiership aspirations by scoring both goals in a 2-0 dismissal of the ladder-leaders.
His counterpart and former Socceroo teammate Tony Popovic was disappointed that his side did not get back on level terms when they controlled the game for large chunks of the first half.
But Popovic was not about to write off the season for what he said were "30 disappointing minutes" in the second half, when Victory scored its second goal and put the game beyond reach.
Muscat's side has been on the rack in recent weeks for a series of poor performances, culminating in last Sunday's 1-1 draw with a 10-man Newcastle in front of their own fans, when the depleted visitors might easily have won the game.
Some strong words were exchanged, and the players, especially Bozanic, emerged in revved up mood and determined to make a statement.
"I thought we were good value for the three points tonight. We showed a lot of endeavour and mental strength to perform at that level," Muscat said.
"I know what the team is capable of, and that's what it's capable of. It's been a tough week. It's been pretty ordinary, the criticism has come thick and fast, the majority of it was warranted.....(this win is) a reminder of what we are capable of if we apply ourselves.
"The pressure we put on ourselves is far greater than anything we read or hear. When you build such expectation based on the last two or three years and when you fall short of that you come under pressure.
"Ollie is a very clever footballer who analyses himself more than most. He was outstanding tonight. ....the group was very positive, aggressive and mentally strong."
Both Daniel Georgievski and Besart Berisha went off with injuries towards the end of the match, but Muscat sounded optimistic that both would be available for the next game against Wellington in New Zealand.
"I am pretty confident with Georgievski it is cramp.. and I'd be guessing if I spoke about Bes. I don't think it's going to be.... he put in a big shift, he was tired by the amount of work he does for the team."
Popovic was pleased with the way his side had reacted after going a goal down early, but frustrated that they could not capitalise on the period when they controlled the game.
"If we look at the first half, we played well, played the way we wanted to play, but conceded a very early goal. They have been down on confidence and that gave them a lift.
"But the reaction was good, we controlled things, created opportunities.
"That was their only attempt on goal in the first half, and goals do change games.
"I feel had we scored in that first half, the game (would have) changed again. I was disappointed in the last half hour. We will make sure that we don't play that way again if things don't go our way."
|Western Sydney Wanderers||25||12||6||7||38||32||6||42|
|*Central Coast Mariners||24||3||4||17||28||58||-30||13|
* denotes teams yet to play