April 16, 2015 16:37:19 UK
Two goals in a five-minute spell gave Melbourne Victory a 2-1 win at Brisbane Roar to move them three points clear at the top of the A-League.
A win and a draw from their final two games would be enough for Victory to secure the Premier’s Plate for the third time.
Besart Berisha refused to celebrate when he scored Victory’s second goal against his former club at Suncorp Stadium. The Albanian striker’s 12th goal of the season gave Kevin Muscat’s side breathing space, which proved decisive after Matt McKay pulled a goal back early in the second half.
Both Victory’s goals were out of the top drawer, with Carl Valeri giving them the lead on 17 minutes as he fired a low shot beyond the dive of Jamie Young.
Fahid Ben Khalfallah, having set up Valeri for his shot, provided another assist five minutes later with his delicate pass over the top of the defence. It found Berisha, who had timed his run perfectly to stay onside, and the former Roar striker chested the ball down before blasting through the legs of Young.
Brisbane fans needed little reminding of how costly Berisha’s departure at the end of last season has been for their club. And had no intention of rubbing salt into their wounds, brushing off his teammates’ attempts to congratulate him for scoring.
Skipper Smith got the Roar back into the game six minutes after the break, playing a one-two with Andrija Kaludjerovic before shooting across Lawrence Thomas.
The stats count might show that Brisbane had 12 shots to Victory’s 10, but clear-cut chances were few and far between for the home side thanks to the defending of Mathieu Delpierre and Nick Ansell.
Brisbane, who are 51.00 to win the Asian Champions League, will need to lift their game if they are to get anything out of Saturday’s second meeting between the sides.
They are likely to have to do so without Socceroos defender Luke DeVere, who limped off with a quad complaint. Winger Brandon Borrello was a late withdrawal from their side after he picked up a knee injury in the warm-up.
Victory are 1.40 to win their final match of the regular season at home to Central Coast, who are 6.50 with the draw 4.50.
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