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Melbourne Victory 4 Brisbane Roar 0
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A-League: Melbourne Victory roar back to form, thrash Brisbane Roar

By a quirk of the fixture, Melbourne Victory had somehow avoided playing A-League leaders Brisbane Roar in the previous 14 rounds of this season. 

After Friday night, when the stuttering champions found their form with a vengeance in a scintillating 4-0 win, Victory coach Kevin Muscat  will surely ask the FFA if they can play the Queenslanders every week.

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Ruthless Victory thrash Roar

Melbourne Victory hand ladder leaders Brisbane a 4-0 belting at AAMI Park, equalling the Roar's heaviest ever defeat.

The easy triumph lifts Victory to 24 points, level with Sydney FC and local rivals Melbourne City, who both play on Saturday night.

They are now only four and three points respectively behind Brisbane and second-placed Western Sydney Wanderers, who can go top  if they avoid defeat in the Sydney derby.

But more importantly, this might just turn out to be the game in which the A-League's power club got its mojo back with a swashbuckling display showcasing the attacking threat they can unleash when their key men hit form.

This was supposed to be a critical game for Victory, who were down on personnel, down on confidence and down on their luck having taken only five points from their last seven matches.


But a neutral dropping into AAMI Park — world tennis number one Novak Djokovic, perhaps, who was in attendance with his coach Boris Becker — could have been forgiven for asking what all the concern had been about.

From the kick-off, Muscat's men played with flair and abandon. 

If Victory was concerned by the fact that they were missing five of their best young players, who are away on Olympic team duty, their injured captain Carl Valeri or their suspended first-choice full-back Daniel Georgievski,  they certainly didn't show it.

Within five minutes Victory was a goal to the good. The lead had doubled by the 11th minute, and when Kosta Barbarouses headed home a third in the 30th minute, Victory looked to be home and dry. Almost.

Almost because, of course, the memory of seven days ago was playing on the minds of everyone, player, fan and official, in navy blue.

Last week Central Coast Mariners had raced to a 3-0 half-time lead against Victory to set up a lead which seemed to put the game in safe keeping for them, only for the league's bottom club to be undone by Victory's second-half fightback which saw the champions snatch a 3-3 draw.

Victory began as if that turbocharged finale was still very much in their memory and got the perfect start in the fifth minute. The ball came from a throw in to Gui Finkler, who played in Fahid Ben Khalfallah with just Roar goalkeeper Jamie Young to beat.

The Tunisian international hasn't had his best season so far, but he put any nerves he might have felt aside and finished with aplomb.

Shortly after, the Roar's Spanish midfielder Javier Hervas, making his first start for the Queenslanders, made a dreadful blunder when he played a pass across the face of his own goal that was intended for centre-half Jade North. But the ball was too short, and Barbarouses nipped in and calmly slotted past Young.

Muscat has never been afraid to pick kids in his starting line-up and he relied on 19-year-old Stefan Nigro in the role of right-back, giving the teenager a full debut.

He wasn't let down. Nigro's confidence gained an immediate boost when he dribbled round Roar's star midfielder Thomas Broich, and he looked comfortable throughout.

Brisbane did have a couple of opportunities but could not take them, and Victory stretched its lead on the half-hour mark. Once more it was Finkler and Barbarouses who combined, with some involvement from Nigro in the build-up. Eventually, Finkler's delicate chip found the Kiwi winger in space and Barbarouses nodded home.

Any hopes of a miraculous Brisbane fightback ended in the 52nd minute when Victory got a fourth goal. Centre-half  Matthieu Delpierre's shot rebounded off the post, Ben Khalfallah squared the rebound back across goal and Berisha flicked home.

By now it was party time. After an hour, Nigro made way for Nick Ansell, and the debutant departed to the cheers of the crowd, who chanted his name. It was a first appearance the young man will remember for ever, however his career develops.

Berisha could have made it five in the 65th minute when, after a terrific break, his shot from a Barbarouses cross was well saved by Young.

Team P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Brisbane Roar 15 8 4 3 22 16 6 28
*Western Sydney Wanderers 14 8 3 3 22 13 9 27
*Melbourne City 14 7 3 4 35 24 11 24
*Sydney FC 14 6 6 2 19 12 7 24
Melbourne Victory 15 7 3 5 24 18 6 24
*Adelaide United 14 4 5 5 16 19 -3 17
*Wellington Phoenix 14 4 4 6 17 22 -5 16
*Newcastle Jets 14 3 4 7 9 18 -9 13
*Perth Glory 14 3 3 8 15 23 -8 12
*Central Coast Mariners 14 2 3 9 18 32 -14 9

* indicates teams yet to play.