Champions First Victory With Room For Improvement

Melbourne Victory 5-1 Adelaide United (6/12/21)

By Kieran Yap

Above: Lia Privitelli, who contributed two of Melbourne Victory’s five goals, in celebratory mood. Photo: @gomvfc

Melbourne Victory were 4-0 up at halftime but head coach Jeff Hopkins had been furiously scribbling in his notebook for much of the game. Despite the scoreline, he had seemed unhappy. It was that kind of game.

It would not have been an unfamiliar sight to those who watched the Matildas play the U.S.A last Saturday. Adelaide were not generally outplayed, but they did not take their chances and were guilty of some costly errors in defence.

With American star striker Lynn Williams looking on and Melina Ayres on the sidelines, Melbourne Victory were without two of their most high-profile attackers.

In their absence, Lia Privitelli started upfront with Catherine Zimmerman and Harriet Withers.

Above: The defending champions Melbourne Victory enter the pitch at AAMI Stadium yesterday Photo: @gomvfc

Privitelli made her mark in the tenth minute, Reds goalkeeper Anna-Lee Grove took her eye off the ball for a moment while receiving a back pass and swung at fresh air when she tried to play it out.

That moment was all it took for Privitelli to race in and tap into an empty net. When you are up against the champions on their home turf, you do not need to give them gifts, this was a cruel start for the visitors.

Adelaide almost drew level. Emily Condon found space in the box and shot well, forcing a save from the returning Casey Dumont in goal.

Victory’s next chance came from a Kyra Cooney-Cross ball. Courtney Nevin released her fellow Matilda down the left wing, Cooney-Cross put on a surge of pace and curled a pass into the path of Zimmerman. Grove was quick off the mark and able to beat the striker to the ball.

Victory’s second goal came from another moment of misfortune, Zimmerman was fouled in the box by Matilda McNamara. It was one of those incidences that was a foul anywhere on the field but felt harsh to be punished by a certain goal.

Above: Melbourne Victory acclaim another goal against Adelaide United. Photo: @gomvfc

Kayla Morrison stepped up to take it. Grove saved the initial shot but the Melbourne captain was able to score from the rebound.

Adelaide’s conceded again, Cooney-Cross sent a long pass to Zimmerman to switch the play and the American won a corner.

Cooney-Cross stepped up to take it with calls from the crowd to shoot and re-create her famous winner from the Grand Final.

She didn’t, but she whipped a low ball in and Claudia Bunge was on hand to fire home at the back post. Adelaide could have defended better but Victory were on a roll now and 3-0 up.

Adelaide tried to return fire and Fiona Worts nearly pulled one back. She had Dumont beaten but her shot crashed off the woodwork.

It was another turning point in the afternoon, Kyra Cooney-Cross raced upfield down the middle and drew two players before passing to Zimmerman.

Above: It was an ominous start for other A-League Women sides as Melbourne Victory raced to a 5-1 win. Photo: @gomvfc

Zimmerman, who had looked dangerous all afternoon sent a dipping half volley from almost 30 yards to put Melbourne 4-0 up at the break.

Victory were ahead, convincingly so in terms of the score, but it was not all good news. In the first half, Kayla Morrison had gone down clutching her knee. This could be a crucial moment in the season for Melbourne.

The second half was much more even. Adelaide finally pulled one back. Fiona Worts had looked the most likely all game and scored in the 64th minute to make it 4-1.

It was a tap into an empty net but Worts had shown determination and pace to get to the loose ball after Chelsie Dawber’s shot was saved.

Privitelli put an end to any comeback hopes when she scored her second and Victory’s fifth. It was another comedy of errors from Adelaide when defending a corner from Amy Jackson.

Above: Maja Markovski (left) joins Lia Privitelli in celebrating Victory’s fifth goal. Photo: @gomvfc

The ball basically fell to the foot of Claudia Bunge at the edge of the six-yard box. It bounced up onto the crossbar and Privitelli reacted first to nod it into the ned.

Melbourne Victory were without their leading scorer from last season, their captain was injured and the star signing had yet to suit up and yet they were 5-1 up.

This was far from the best performance that either team will deliver this season but it is an ominous start by the defending champions.

Adelaide had control of the midfield for large parts of the game and created numerous chances. Two of Victory’s goals game from errors and one was a penalty. It was a much more even contest on the balance of play.

But the top teams take their opportunities and Victory, with some new faces and returning ones, look to be in a ruthless mood already.  Withers and Nevin started well, Williams will add even more spark and an impressively confident debut from 15-year-old Alanna Murphy justifies the faith placed in her by the club. In her comeback, Casey Dumont was impressive as she always was and seems to have added extra pace to clear loose balls.

They will be concerned with how easily Adelaide got behind the defenders, but Dumont performed well. Kayla Morrison’s injury could be a massive issue in a league still light on depth for most clubs.

Hopkins may not have been thrilled at half time, but the Victory fans were more than pleased with the scoreline. There is no doubt room for improvement, but that makes Victory an even more frightening prospect.

Teams: MELBOURNE VICTORY: Dumont, Nevin, Morrison, Bunge, Doran, Jackson, Barbieri, Withers, Cooney-Cross, Privitelli, Zimmerman. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Markovski, Murphy, Robers, Zois.

Scorers: Privitelli 10′, 69′. Morrison 19′, Bunge 23′, Zimmerman 39′.

ADELAIDE UNITED: Grove, Hodgson, Tonkin, McNamara, Hodgson, Omiya, Condon, Sasaki, Worts, Hayward, Evans. Substitutes: Dawber, Stanbury, Taranta, Templeman (GK), Varley.

Scorer: Worts 65′.

Referee: Isabella Blaess.

Attendance: 3,450.

Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to https://www.chickensalt.co.uk/?mate=impetus and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.

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