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Victory, City make A-League home gains

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/11/2016 Ben McKay

Melbourne Victory players believe they deserve to be in the A-League title conversation after a 3-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night.

It wasn't always pretty, but Kevin Muscat's side got the job done at Etihad Stadium, earning a scoreline beyond their performance against the Wanderers.

Muscat said he believed his side played better in the previous weekend's 2-1 loss to Sydney FC.

Marquee man Oliver Bozanic, who netted the opening goal of the game, said the result - if not the performance - was significant.

"We're taking it game by game. But we want to be up there. And the only way you can do that is by winning," he told AAP.

"We're pushing ourselves.

"It's still very early in the season but tonight was very important."

In his second season as a Victory marquee, Bozanic continues to polarise opinion.

Inconsistent performances in navy blue have led many to consider the 2014 World Cup Socceroo is underperforming compared with his marquee wage.

But the 27-year-old played a strong hand on Saturday night, and on the basis of his goal celebration, you can't accuse him of not caring.

Bozanic repeatedly thumped the Victory badge on his shirt, showing his passion for the cause.

"That goal was important for me. And the team," he said.

"Every time I put the shirt on I want to play my best football. We're all working hard at it, as hard as possible."

The key to Victory's improvement could be strength in depth.

With Marco Rojas - the club's and arguably the league's best performer this season - away, Victory turned to Mitch Austin and Fahid Ben Khalfallah on the flanks to rich reward.

Ben Khalfallah was close to unplayable in the second half, while Austin should have increased his Victory tally to four goals with a header from the Tunisian's first-half cross which was incorrectly ruled offside.

Substitutes Jai Ingham and Max Beister both left their mark on the match with second-half goals, showing Victory's rich depth of attacking options.

Ben Khalfallah showed his endearing honesty when asked about his lack of game time by Fox Sports after the match.

"To be honest I'm not very happy because I want to play. Everyone wants to play and especially me," he said.

"He (Kevin Muscat) is the boss. He makes his calls and I respect that."

Cross-town rivals Melbourne City returned to winning ways on Thursday night with a 2-1 win over Newcastle Jets that lifts them to second on the table, behind only Sydney FC.

Captain fantastic Bruno Fornaroli netted twice to become the fastest man to 30 A-League goals while Andrew Nabbout grabbed a first-half consolation for the Jets.

Brisbane were the dominant side in Adelaide on Friday night but had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Adelaide after goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic's heroics.

The veteran gloveman made six saves, while opposite number Michael Theo let in the Reds' only shot on target for the match as Sergi Guardiola found a late equaliser.

Brett Holman opened the scoring on the hour mark with his first Australian club goal in over 14 years.

And in Central Coast's new home-away-from-home of Canberra on Saturday, Ernie Merrick became the first A-League manager to notch 100 wins with a 2-0 success.

In-form Wellington Phoenix frontman Roy Krishna scored one and assisted Hamish Watson for the other in a wind-affected day in the capital.

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