Victory’s High Five

Melbourne Victory 5-0 Western Sydney Wanderers

By Kris Goman (13/2/22)

Above: Melinda Barbieri (30) celebrates with Catherine Zimmerman during Melbourne Victory’s win over Western Sydney Wanderers. Photo: Melbourne Victory.

Melbourne Victory delivered the Western Sydney Wanderers a lesson they’d rather forget with their biggest defeat of the season.

For a team that was noted for their defence, the loss of Clare Hunt is being more and more keenly felt. Conversely, it was Victory’s biggest win of the season and it felt like everything came together for them beautifully. Kyra Cooney-Cross was on fire and had a hand in four goals.

Despite more Wanderers shots, the Victory defence held strong and didn’t let a goal in. With seven shots on target for Victory, five of them went in. This result puts both Sydney FC and Melbourne City on notice as the finals approach.

Victory strike early when just five minutes in and Caitlin Cooper loses ball in her half and Kyra Cooney-Cross dribbles down the right and crosses. Catherine Zimmerman missed the connection initially, but had time to turn and was able to gather the ball, strike it, and put it past Sarah Langman.

Bryleeh Henry runs down the left and strikes but it was gathered by Casey Dumont. Wanderers get a corner as Henry continues to attack in the area. Copus Brown takes it short sending it to Matos but Matos’ strike is cleared downfield.

Cooney-Cross makes a lot of damaging runs down the right. In one, Markovski sends a cross right across the face of the goal that goes sailing through and out the other side untouched by anyone. Both the defence and attack are missing in action.

Victory get a free kick on the right near the box when Henry does a spot of shoulder holding on Polly Doran. It comes to naught and then Wanderers get a free-kick from a very similar spot up their end.  And that also comes to naught. Matos takes an ambitious long-range shot. It’s on target but is caught comfortably by Casey Dumont.

A cross from the right comes to Henry but kicking it on the volley sends it sky-high and over the bar. Wanderers are giving it all they’ve got but, as much as I hate the word, they just aren’t being clinical. There’s swipes at uncontrolled balls and a few long-range shots that are on target but not delivered with enough venom to beat Dumont. It’s all a bit kick it and hope for the best rather than any thoughtful execution.

Cooney-Cross, on the other hand, performs some magic in the midfield as she gets the ball, turns some Wanderers on their bums, and sends a beautifully weighted pass through to Mindy Barbieri. Barbieri runs on to it as Langman comes out. She’s able to slide it past and into the back of the net and Victory are up 2-0.

Wanderers are immediately looking to reply with a cross from Tegan Collister and then a long-range strike by Alex Huynh.

Up the other end and Alex Chidiac gets a corner after a battle with Huynh. This results in another corner and Langman ends up with it after a heavy and late challenge by Henry on Chidiac in the box is ignored by the referee.

Above: Kyra Cooney-Cross on yet another dominant run. Photo: Melbourne Victory.

Wanderers have a great opportunity just before halftime when Henry takes a long run through the centre of the park and then passes on to Teigan Collister but Collister can’t get it past Dumont. They get a corner after the next play which goes to the back post and comes out to Erica Halloway who takes a punt but it skews out to the left of goal.

Galic tries a long-range shot that isn’t quite on target but Dumont pushes it out for a corner which she catches easily. Four minutes of injury time. A free-kick by Huynh is headed out for a goal kick in the dying minutes of the half. It’s 2-0 as we go into the break.

At halftime Wanderers have more shots, shots on target, and shots from inside the box but haven’t been able to get past Dumont.

Early on, Withers makes a run down the left to inject immediate excitement but Langman has it covered.

Chidiac shoots and Langman gets a hand to it and it rolls across the face of goal and just misses the right post and goes out in a scary moment for the Wanderers as time seemed to stand still. A corner which Chidiac lobs to the far post but Langman jumps and grabs it out of the air.

Henry receives a lovely ball in the area but directs it straight to Dumont in a one-on-one situation. Just needed a bit more composition and thought about where it was going.

Cooney-Cross battles down the right in a one on one with Matos. She gets a rising shot away and it’s straight into Langman’s hands. There have been plenty of shots this half and we’re less than 10 minutes in.

Cooney-Cross takes a lovely shot from the right and really gets a crack at it. Good direction but Langman is able to grab it.

There are more tense moments as Cooney-Cross sends a lob to Withers but Langman is all over it again.

Cooney-Cross gets her inevitable goal when she’s in the clear on the right from a Wanderers give-away and Langman has to come out. She’s able to skip around her and roll the ball into goal. She’s had an incredible match and that goal was well deserved even if it was her first for the season and long overdue.

Another long shot from Cooney-Cross very soon after kick-off gets through to Zimmerman. The initial shot is blocked but comes back to Zimmerman who heads it. This bounces off the post and Zimmerman slams the rebound into the back of the net for third time lucky. It’s now 4-0 and Zimmerman has a brace.

Above: 15-year-old Ella Abdul Massih in debut action for Western Sydney Wanderers. Photo: Western Sydney Wanderers

Withers gets a run down the left with Cooper in hot pursuit and Cooper is able to get the ball back.

Then Courtney Nevin scores a cracking long-range goal that loops over Langman who’s off her line and into goal. It’s Nevin’s very first A-League goal against her old team and it’s her 20th birthday. Not a bad birthday present and an extra reason to celebrate. It’s getting embarrassing for Wanderers now and this is their worst defeat by a long shot.

Fifteen-year-old Ella Abdul Massih comes on for Collister for her debut. Collister is not happy about leaving the field and tries to storm off down the tunnel until she’s called back by Wanderers boss Catherine Cannuli.

Cooney-Cross steps past a few players to take another long-range shot which hits the crossbar and bounces back into play. Langman would have been beaten if it was a few centimeters lower. She really has been a stand-out in this match.

Abdul Massih has a nice little run down the left towards goal and gets a good pass away. Looks like there’s a bit of talent there.

Libby Copus-Brown sent a nice ball through to Isabella Habuda but she can’t get it past Dumont in another close chance for the Wander Women. Abdul Massih takes a shot that’s blocked and seems to have no fear.

A Wanderers free-kick from the left is somewhat surprisingly taken by Abdul Massih. She goes for goal and it just skims the crossbar in a pretty decent attempt.  A ball through from Price to Abdul Massih is blocked by Doran but it’s another good shot.

Danika Matos rolls her ankle and is in a bit of pain as play stops for treatment. She’s in a bit of distress as Rosie Galea readies to come on. She hobbles off in tears and a considerable amount of pain and won’t be back on as Galea replaces her.

Wanderers attack again as we approach stoppage time. Cooper gets a yellow.

Polly Doran delivers a long ball to Withers out on the left flank and she takes it to the corner but Henry gets it off her.

In a last-ditch effort, the ball comes through from Eliadis to an offside Cooney-Cross who boots it into goal after the whistle but it’s not flying with the ref and she gets a yellow for her troubles. But it’s still a resounding win for Victory and Cooney-Cross had an incredible game.

Above: A rampant performance from Melbourne Victory who are approaching ominous form at the right stage of the season. Photo: Melbourne Victory.

Cooney-Cross said after the match that this was a much better performance and that they’d been a bit rusty as they were playing bottom teams and just not good enough. Their team meeting said things had to be better and that they needed to keep finishing so they did that today.

In her post-match interview, Caitlin Cooper said she personally wasn’t good enough today and took on some responsibility for the loss. ”Definitely not good enough in defence. Need to pick things up and we’re just not good enough. Not keeping the ball in the final third. Need to turn things around.” It was also Cooper’s birthday but she may not be celebrating quite as hard as Nevin.

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

Scorers: Zimmerman 5’, 60’, Barbieri 32’, Cooney-Cross 58’, Nevin 63’

WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Langman, Matos, Cooper, Huynh, Halloway, Steinmetz, Galic, Collister, Henry, Habuda, Copus-Brown. Substitutes: Khamis (GK), Price, Chauvet, Galea, Abdul Massih.

Referee: Kelly Jones.

Attendance: 1,691.

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

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