Popovic encouraged by win for much-improved Victory

Lee Gagliardi |

Tony Popovic was delighted by the improved display from his Melbourne Victory side in Adelaide.
Tony Popovic was delighted by the improved display from his Melbourne Victory side in Adelaide.

Coach Tony Popovic has hailed Melbourne Victory’s much-improved display in their 2-1 A-League Men win over Adelaide United.

Victory looked lively against their fierce rivals at Coopers Stadium on Saturday with Bruno Fornaroli scoring either side of halftime to ensure maximum points.

The win came on the back of consecutive losses, with Popovic noting it was a significant improvement from the 3-2 defeat to Brisbane Roar a week earlier.

Victory were forced to dig deep when the Reds equalised on 51 minutes through Nestory Irankunda, cancelling out Fornaroli’s 33rd minute opener.

But, they didn’t have to wait long with Fornaroli converting a spot kick four minutes later to restore Victory’s lead.

“The performance was much better than we’ve had the last couple of games, in particular against Brisbane,” Popovic said.

“And when we do that, we always give ourselves a chance, which we’ve done for most of the season. That was pleasing.

“And we had to show character when it went to 1-1. We created chances throughout the night, something that we’ve lacked the last couple of matches so that was a real positive.”

The win moves Victory into third on 34 points, one point ahead of Macarthur and three points behind second-placed Central Coast Mariners, who were playing on Sunday. 

Victory also closed the gap to six points on league leaders Wellington, who lost to Melbourne City earlier in the day.

But Popovic isn’t looking too far ahead with Western United next up.

“We have to focus on Thursday; there are no easy games here. We had to earn tonight, Adelaide don’t give you anything here, and that’s how it should be.

“We had to earn it, we missed a lot of opportunities but their keeper had a fantastic match and in the end Paul (Izzo) still had to make some saves.

Trailing 1-0 at the break, United brought on Irankunda and Ben Halloran, and it paid immediate dividends. 

But Reds coach Carl Veart was disappointed United weren’t able to keep the pressure on Victory after Irankunda’s equaliser.

Within two minutes, the visitors launched a long ball out of defence which United failed to deal with, resulting in a penalty to Victory which Fornaroli duly converted. 

“We made some changes because we needed to and worked hard and got ourselves into the game,” Veart said.

“And then leading up to the penalty, we didn’t defend the long ball on the half way line and allowed them to get into our box and that’s what happens.”