Danny Allsopp's sensational return to Melbourne Victory has continued as he provided a brace in this evening's 2-0 win over Gold Coast United. The 32-year old striker scored two superb goals, one in each half, to take his tally to five in six matches since coming back as the Victory went a long way to securing their spot in the A-League finals.
The win was the fourth match undefeated for Ernie Merrick's men and put them on 40 points, five clear of sixth-placed Wellington Phoenix. A win over seventh-placed Newcastle Jets on Wednesday at Etihad Stadium would pretty much tie up a playoffs spot.
For Gold Coast, it was their first loss in four outings but put them in danger of losing fourth spot to the Victory as they tackle the top three sides - Adelaide United, Central Coast Mariners and Brisbane Roar - in their final four regular season matches.
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne Crowd: 8,287 Referee: Peter Green Yellow cards:MV - Roddy Vargas 11', Tom Pondeljak 48' GCU - nil
It was a sweltering day in Melbourne and one that was cut short for Gold Coast's Bas van den Brink who had to be replaced in just the eighth minute when he was injured in a clash with Victory midfielder Grant Brebner. It looked as though it was a twisted knee but the extent of the damage was unconfirmed at time of writing.
Victory skipper Adrian Leijer had two close headed chances around the 15th minute-mark as the home side slowly played their way into the contest. They should have hit the lead in the 19th minute when a ball was played forward and with everybody stopping for a likely off-side call, youngster Mate Dugandzic took the initiative and chased down the ball to the byline before cutting back for Tom Pondeljak but the veteran's close range first-timer was inches off the target.
The match was halted during the 23rd minute for the three-minute drinks break which occurs at the referee's discretion when it is more than 35 degrees. This time is not included in added time at the end of the half.
GOAL The 28th minute provided us with a special moment when Danny Allsopp fired home from about 23 yards. Grant Brebner dispossessed the Gold Coast midfield with Allsopp the recipient and the returning striker was allowed to advance with the ball to a range where he was able to power past Glen Moss for his fourth in four matches.
Allsopp was well up for it and again took on the United defence but could only dink his 37th minute left-footer into the side netting as the Victory continued to have the better of the chances.
Gold Coast's Bruce Djite forced Michael Petkovic into a save in the 39th minute before Allsopp lashed over the crossbar down the other end in what were the last real chances of the opening half.
It took ten minutes for the first good chance of the second term when Djite shot on the turn in the area but thankfully for the Victory, Petkovic was well-positioned to hold onto the left-footed crack.
GOAL Allsopp then came up with another beauty in the 56th minute when he controlled a long ball from Diogo Ferreira in the area, then worked John Curtis off his tail, before turning onto his non-preferred left and curling the ball around Moss and into the top right corner for the second of the match.
Allsopp had the chance to complete his hat-trick in the 63rd minute when Dugandzic found him with a searching ball but after taking it into the area, his final shot again with his left but this time with a distinct lack of venom, was kept out by Moss.
The Victory continued to press and were again close to a third when Matthew Kemp played a dangerous aerial ball for Allsopp but Moss was able to punch it to safety despite the efforts of the former DC United striker before Brebner stung the palms of the United custodian in the 70th minute with a long range strike.
Moments later, Kemp strode down the left before pulling back another nice delivery for Allsopp but his unmarked glancing header flew across the goal and was only centimeters from going in for his treble.
The spark was taken out of the match after the second drinks break as the Victory seemed content to sit back and soak up time whilst Gold Coast were not really too concerned with pressing for at least a consolation goal. However, they almost grabbed one if it wasn't for the brilliance of Petkovic who produced a finger-tip save from a Joel Porter close range shot in the 90th minute before substitute Ricardinho was inches away down the other end as the Victory bridged the gap with the Gold Coast to just two points.
MV Michael Petkovic (gk), Petar Franjic, Roddy Vargas, Adrian Leijer, Tom Pondeljak, Diogo Ferreira, Grant Brebner, Matthew Kemp (Foschini 73'), Mate Dugandzic (Ricardinho 87'), Carlos Hernandez (Angulo 46'), Danny Allsopp
Subs - Sebastian Mattei (gk), Marvin Angulo (46'), Matthew Foschini (73'), Ricardinho (87')
GCU Glen Moss (gk), John Curtis, Michael Thwaite, Dino Djulbic, Adama Traore, Anderson, Bas van den Brink (Rees 8'), Peter Perchtold, Kim Sung-kil (Porter 46'), Bruce Djite, Golgol Mebrahtu (Fitzsimmons 60')
Subs - Scott Higgins (gk), Kristian Rees (8'), Joel Porter (46'), Steve Fitzsimmons (60')