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Rojas stars, Victory up to 2nd in A-League

NZN 26/11/2016 Ben McKay

Marco Rojas has sent Melbourne Victory to second on the A-League table with a decisive role in Saturday's 2-0 win over Newcastle.

The Kiwi winger transformed the contest with a deflected strike in the 52nd minute and a breakaway finish two minutes later.

Like most of his Victory teammates, Rojas stuttered and was without polish in a first half of missteps rather than memorable moments.

But when Fahid Ben Khalfallah was brought down by acting Jets captain Wayne Brown just outside the box early in the second half, Rojas delivered from the set piece.

The 25-year-old's free kick deflected off defender Iain Fyfe and into the net, leaving goalkeeper Jack Duncan cursing his luck.

Victory are likely to dispute the awarding of the goal to Fyfe.

If the opener had a touch of good fortune, the second was clinical.

Rojas seized on teenage defender Johnny Koutroumbis' loose ball, surging forward to sidefoot home.

The only Victory figure among 18,267 fans to seemingly be displeased was Besart Berisha, who would have preferred a cross, and who turned his back and walked towards the centre circle without acknowledging the goalscorer.

But the rest were delighted with a third-straight home win that has Victory humming in the league.

Their success was amplified given the tight history shared by two sides - not since March 2013 had either club won this fixture by more than a single goal.

There was relief for coach Kevin Muscat too, who had to turn to his signing of three days - Matthew Acton - in goal.

Acton was given the gloves after a finger injury to Lawrence Thomas in mid-week training, with second-choice gloveman Alastair Bray out with a dislocated shoulder.

Despite a hairy moment when he collected Devante Clut crudely outside the box, the 24-year-old proved himself to be a worthy shotstopper, assisted on 89 minutes with a clearance from James Donachie off the line.

Jets debutant Andy Brennan missed his side's two best chances - from a one-on-one inside the first five minutes and from a cutback with 10 minutes remaining.

Despite missing seven senior players, with Morten Nordstand departing at halftime with a minor hip flexor issue, coach Mark Jones said they were still upset to lose.

"We're very disappointed to switch off for five, 10 minutes and that's enough. You can't afford to do that," he said.

Victory could count themselves unlucky not to win by a greater margin.

Berisha produced a contender for miss of the season, sidefooting James Troisi's cross wide from three metres with an empty net beckoning.

Until Rojas' emergence, Troisi was the major creative force at AAMI Park, taking 10 of Victory's 21 shots and setting up several others.

Muscat said he was delighted to break through.

"The difficult thing for us tonight was getting the first goal. It didn't come off for us early and frustration built," he said.

"But in the second half, we corrected things ... and what could have been a dangerous game for us turned out to be a good night."

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