March 28, 2015 11:13:56 UK
They may have picked up what could be a crucial three points from a 2-1 win against Central Coast Mariners, but Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat feels his players will be “hurting” after their off-key performance.
A goal either side of half time from Brazilian Gui Finkler secured a win that took Victory to within a point of A-League leaders Wellington Phoenix.
Victory were missing seven players through international duty and injuries at AAMI Park, including captain Mark Milligan.
Muscat wasn’t using the absences as an excuse for his side’s display, but felt instead nerves might have played a part.
“What this time of the year does bring up is a lot of expectation and nerves in and around everybody – maybe that played a little bit of a part,” he said.
Victory were indebted to the two quality strikes from Finkler, after their former player Isaka Cernak had given Central Coast the lead.
Muscat conceded his team had scrapped for the win, and said: “That can last a week or two weeks, but it doesn’t win you anything. To win consistently you need to perform well and I’m under no illusions that we can perform better than we did and we will do.”
He added: “I know the group well and they’ll be hurting from that even though we’ve won. We’ve played much better than that and not got the points this year, so no one could begrudge us that, but the group will be determined to improve the performance.”
Victory are well placed to push for the premiership as they only play one of their fellow contenders in their final five matches – next week’s trip to Wellington Phoenix where they are 3.00.
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