Melbourne Victory 1-1 Melbourne City: Brooks strikes in injury time to ward off A-League wooden spoon

By Sports Desk June 06, 2021

Melbourne Victory equalised with almost the final kick of the game as they held A-League Premiers Melbourne City to a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

City were on a three-match winning run in the derby and had won the previous meetings this season 6-0 and 7-0, leaving them just two short of the competition record for goals against the same opponent in a single campaign.

However, it took until the 54th minute for City to find the breakthrough – Nicholas Ansell turning the ball into his own net following Naoki Tsubaki's cross from the right.

Victory striker Rudy Gestede fired over when given a good chance to level and a fine save from Tom Glover denied the former Aston Villa man four minutes later.

City thought they had settled the contest as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, but a VAR review disallowed Anthony Lesiotis' tap-in for offside.

The home side continued to push for a leveller and it came in the fifth minute of injury time, substitute Lleyton Brooks firing a half-volley into the top-right corner after City failed to clear a corner.

Victory's cheers resounded around the empty stands of AAMI Park as the result means they are one point above Newcastle Jets at the foot of the table.

They will avoid the wooden spoon if the Jets are beaten in their final match with City, a game which was postponed last month due to lockdown restrictions in Melbourne.

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    Carlo Ancelotti does not believe he deserves credit for Vinicius Junior's improvement, while the Real Madrid coach is backing Eden Hazard to find his best level again this season.

    Karim Benzema has undoubtedly been Madrid's standout player this season, with the Frenchman's 19 goal involvements across all competitions bettered by only Mohamed Salah (20) in Europe's top five leagues, but Vinicius' form has also provided a real positive.

    In each of his previous three seasons at Madrid, Vinicius had underperformed in relation to his expected goals (xG) value, backing up the idea he was wasteful and lacked the ability to be decisive.

    This season, however, Vinicius has seven goals across all competitions from an xG value of 5.2, suggesting he is proving more reliable when presented with chances and also sniffing out greater opportunities in the first place.

    With 10 goal involvements, Vinicius has already reached his total from last season and is just two behind his personal best of 12 for an entire campaign (2018-19).

    Many have praised Ancelotti's influence for this, but the Italian insists he has not done "anything special".

    "What I like the most is that he tries," Ancelotti told reporters ahead of Wednesday's clash with Osasuna. "He tries, whenever he can, and he does it with intensity.

    "Regardless of quality, he works a lot. He has to improve without the ball, but he's humble, and he likes to work.

    "What I do is work on motivation and less on the offensive aspect of his game, where I leave a lot to creativity. What stands out is his creativity with the ball.

    "He is focused as a player. He's young, and at times he loses concentration with the fans – I tell him that he has to focus on the game and not on the surroundings.

    "It is not a father-son relationship, I already have two children! It is the relationship you want to have with all the players. I try to keep him motivated, focused, but I don't do anything special."

     

    On the other hand, one Madrid wide player who is not thriving currently is Eden Hazard.

    The Belgium forward's Madrid career has been devastated by injuries so far and, although he has mostly stayed fit this season, he has a lot of work on his hands to convince Ancelotti.

    Hazard has made four LaLiga starts this term, but none of those have come in the past month, and he was an unused substitute for the weekend's Clasico win over Barcelona.

    Ancelotti insists the former Chelsea star can get back to his best, however.

    Asked if Hazard still had "star status", the coach replied: "He does not have this status because he has had many injuries. Little by little, he will have his best version.

    "I am sure that this season we will see his best version and that he will play more than he is doing now. Hazard has it, everything: quality, motivation... He just has to wait. What happens is that sometimes the coach prefers other players.

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    Gareth Bale will increase the competition for Hazard when he returns, though the Wales winger is still a couple of weeks away from making his comeback, as Ancelotti has earmarked the visit of Rayo Vallecano on November 6.

    "Gareth Bale was discharged yesterday and I think that in a week he will be able to train with the team," Ancelotti said. "Maybe he can be involved against Rayo Vallecano."

  • Ancelotti hits out Barca fans who showed Koeman 'a lack of respect' Ancelotti hits out Barca fans who showed Koeman 'a lack of respect'

    Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has criticised a group of Barcelona supporters who mobbed Ronald Koeman's car after Sunday's Clasico.

    Ancelotti claimed his first managerial victory at Camp Nou on Sunday, as goals from David Alaba and Lucas Vazquez secured a 2-1 victory. 

    Struggling Barca boss Koeman was then subjected to unsavoury scenes as he left the ground, with the Dutchman's vehicle surrounded by fans as he attempted to depart.

    Barca released a statement to condemn those actions and in his news conference on Tuesday, Koeman suggested the incident reflected wider problems in society.

    Ancelotti, who Koeman also revealed offered his support, echoed his counterpart's sentiment.

    "It is a lack of respect for the person, not for the coach. Koeman is not a coach, he is a person who works as a coach," Ancelotti told the media ahead of Madrid's LaLiga meeting with Osasuna on Wednesday.

    "It is not a problem of football, but of society, of rudeness.

    "A friend who is also a coach told me that the best life for a coach is when there are no games. It is a beautiful life, we like to train. Criticism is normal, but disrespect is annoying on a personal level.

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    Despite the victory, some sections of Madrid's support were seemingly unhappy with how Los Blancos played at Camp Nou.

    Barca shaded the possession (51.6 per cent) and had more shots (12) than Madrid's 10, though the hosts only managed to get two on target - one of those being Sergio Aguero's last-gasp consolation - and were constantly exposed on the counter-attack.

    "I understand the criticism because everyone can have an opinion," reflected Ancelotti.

    "I said that we had not played perfectly, but that we played a smart game, which was what we had asked for."

    Ancelotti has not lost as Madrid coach against Osasuna in all competitions (W3 D1), though Wednesday's match will not be simple, with Jagoba Arrasate's side sitting in sixth, just two points back from Los Blancos.

    "Osasuna are a good team that play intense football, that defend well," Ancelotti said. "They are dangerous and their [league position] speaks clearly. It will be a difficult game."

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