A-League club Melbourne Victory have been edged by Argentine powerhouse Boca Juniors 1-0 in a pre-season friendly. Marcelo Canete scored the only goal of the contest that was at times fiery with both teams throwing in loose challenges but thankfully there were no casualties as one of Australia's best took on South America's champion club.
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Melbourne Crowd: 13,020 Yellow cards:MV - Robbie Kruse 36', Adrian Leijer 83', Grant Brebner 86' BJ - Cristian Erbes 36', Matias Gimenez 69'
In their customary navy blue and yellow strip, Club Atletico Boca Juniors were greeted with a strong applause from Melbourne's Argentinean community whilst the Victory, in their 'away' white did not have as much support as usual. This being a pre-season match and the fact there was no Carlos Hernandez, Archie Thompson and Kevin Muscat may have turned the usual north and south end fans away but the faithful who did show up were still in full voice.
The opening was fairly cagey as the two sides tried to work each other out with Boca starting a few relative unknowns but it was the Victory who had the first chance of any real consequence in the 20th minute when defender Roddy Vargas found his way to the back post after a Leigh Broxham free-kick but his unmarked a shot from an impossible angle rocketed across the goalmouth and away to safety from a Boca point of view.
Boca forwards Pablo Mouche and Lucas Viatri were causing a few slight headaches for the Victory defence but it was Marcelo Canete who was left with a sore head and a battered ego when he ran into referee Strebre Delovski just prior to the half-hour mark and spent time on the sidelines receiving treatment for a bloodied nose.
A goal-front scramble was then required by Boca to clear a Victory foray which involved Mate Dugandzic and Robbie Kruse as Canete continued to have trouble with his nose.
It was in the 36th minute when tempers frayed when Evan Berger was up-ended by a Cristian Erbes tackle which Kruse did not agree with. The young striker remonstrated with Erbes as a slight melee ensued but it was over before it began and Kruse and Erbes were handed cautions for their troubles.
Goal - Canete returned after having his bleeding problem dealt with and it worked a treat as he swooped on a mistake by Broxham before muscling past two Victory defenders and slotting an under-pressure left-footed shot past Glen Moss to open the scoring with a few minutes remaining in the half.
Victory made the only change at the half-time break, substituting goalkeeper Glen Moss for new recruit Michael Petkovic and he was called on immediately to make a diving save from a close range Canete shot. The Boca playmaker was beginning to be a nuisance for Melbourne's defenders as he continually cut swathes through them but on this occasion, Petkovic was equal to the task.
Another unfriendly incident occurred ten minutes into the second half when Victory defender Adrian Leijer received a raised Viatri elbow to the head and it required the Spanish-speaking Roddy Vargas to try and calm things down between the pair. There were a few unpleasant happenings in the first hour but one pleasant sight for the Victory fans was the introduction of midfielder Billy Celeski who is returning from a knee injury which forced him to miss most of last season.
The contest went on without much ado as Boca held their narrow lead and the Victory strived to grab an equaliser which almost came in the 78th minute when veteran midfielder Tom Pondeljak tried his luck from long range with the ball sailing just over the crossbar but a leveller didn't come and coach Ernie Merrick would have to look to their final two pre-season matches against Victorian Premier League club Dandenong Thunder on Tuesday and Central Coast Mariners in Tasmania next Sunday to test his new look attack.
The Argentine outfit, however, move on to New Zealand where they will meet the Wellington Phoenix next Friday the 23rd July in the second leg of their Australasian tour.
MV Glen Moss (gk) (Petkovic 46'), Mate Dugandzic (Ward 57'), Surat Sukha (Foschini 57'), Leigh Broxham, Grant Brebner, Marvin Angulo (Celeski 57'), Roddy Vargas, Tom Pondeljak (Jeggo 83'), Evan Berger (Ferreira 73'), Robbie Kruse (O'Dea 87'), Adrian Leijer
Subs - Michael Petkovic (gk) (46'), Matthew Foschini (57'), Nick Ward (57'), Billy Celeski (57'), Diogo Ferreira (73'), Jimmy Jeggo (83'), Luke O'Dea (87')
BJ Cristian Lucchetti (gk), Christian Cellay, Leandro Marin (Gimenez 59'), Cristian Erbes (Achucarro 85'), Ezequiel Munoz, Pablo Mouche (Blandi 79'), Jesus Mendez, Lucas Viatri (Araujo 79'), Marcelo Canete (Gonzalez 59'), Juan Insaurralde, Luciano Monzon (Colazo 59'), David Achucarro (85')
Subs - Nicolas Gonzalez (59'), Carlos Nicolas Colazo (59'), Matias Gimenez (59'), Nicolas Blandi (79'), Sergio Araujo (79')