15/04/2024

Captain Josh Brillante kicked his first Melbourne Victory goal in the Battle of the Bridge. (Photo: Melbourne Victory/Twitter)

Completing a 12 second play to score their second goal on Sunday night, Melbourne Victory have jumped over the competition's biggest defensive roadblock with flying colours.

Not content after putting just one goal into the back of the net, Melbourne Victory struck perfectly in a near perfectly executed 12 second play against Western United.

Full-back Jason Geria broke the deadlock early in the 18th minute, scoring his first A-League Men goal in his 126th appearance.

The 28-year-old drifted close to goal in a corner set piece, heading the ball past Jamie Young and sending AAMI Park into celebration.

But it was the second goal from Tony Popovic’s men that truly blew the lid off the stadium, demonstrating the ruthlessness and hunger of the now league leaders.

As the Victory fans expressed their elation, midfielder Steven Lustica was given the unfavourable task of kicking off play again.

Smelling blood, Francesco Margiotta pushed up quickly towards Neil Kilkenny, forcing a quick pass back the way of Lustica.

Lustica however was already pushing forward, failing to anticipate the ball heading his way. Enter Brillante.

The new captain intercepted the pass easily and deflected the ball straight back into Victory possession, Jake Brimmer taking the initiative and dribbling right up to the edge of the box.

Caught unawares, the five man Western United defence failed to improvise against the sudden surge.

Josh Risdon, nearly already past the halfway line, quickly lost Chris Ikonomidis, who came up to the corner of the box to provide an option on the right.

He ultimately wasn’t even needed, as Brimmer dodged past three men in traffic, feeding out to Margiotta who easily noticed Brillante with space to shoot on the edge of the area.

The skipper’s strike was true, and the Victory had scored twice in under 60 seconds.

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“I don’t always score goals, but it’s nice to get forward and finally score a goal so hopefully I can add a few more later this season,” Brillante told Victory Media post-game.

The captain was involved in the play from start to finish, pushing up for the initial intercepted ball and completing the score.

His reading of the play was exceptional, moving out of position and holding in the right area at the perfect moments.

Brimmer’s run and ability to dribble and retain possession effectively in the face of nearly the entire Western defence was equally as crucial.

It was going to take some creativity to get past a defence which was yet to give up a goal in 2021/22.

Popovic praised Brimmer’s start to the season after making an assist, taking two shots, making five key passes and winning six of his 11 duels.

“He had a very good pre-season, and he’s a young player that you can see is growing with every match,” Popovic said.

“His good moments are getting longer, he’s extending the periods of his good play, and he’s very influential for us in the front-third.”

Margiotta’s individual brilliance helped to navigate the tight space both himself and Brimmer had squeezed the defenders into, and work the ball out.

It was a play that epitomised the ‘small moments’ type of game that it was – the difference makers all playing their part.

Nick D’Agostino, for the second time in two weeks, was substituted on late and brought home the points for Victory. This time though, it was three instead of one.

It was another blistering end to end play, Marco Rojas running the ball all the way out of defence.

The Victory have passed a major defensive challenge, breaking through a Western back four in style.

Their next test should be a reprieve: the struggling Brisbane Roar at home.

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