Victory’s stuttering season continues
MELBOURNE Victory's stuttering start to the A-League season has continued, with Marco Kurz's side scrapping out a 1-1 draw with Wellington Phoenix in front of 15,014 fans at AAMI Park.
Ulises Davila's penalty handed Wellington the lead in the fifth minute before Ola Toivonen earned a point with a sublime goal in the 66th minute.
Kurz recalled Jakob Poulsen, with Kristijan Dobras moving to the bench. Meanwhile Phoenix recruit Gary Hooper (quad) was unavailable, with Jaushua Sotirio starting.
Victory's day got off to a horror start, conceding from a penalty inside five minutes.
A seemingly innocuous corner from Callum McCowatt struck Toivonen on the arm in the second minute, with referee Adam Kersey initially waving away the contact.
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After a VAR review, the penalty was awarded, with Ulises Davila powering his spot-kick past Lawrence Thomas to give the Phoenix a 1-0 lead. Victory largely lacked creativity and struggled to make genuine chances throughout the opening half, with Toivonen curling a shot wide in the 22nd minute.
In an ill-tempered first half, Phoenix skipper Steven Taylor received a yellow for a forearm to the back of Toivonen's head, while Victory's Leigh Broxham was carded for a challenge on Davila.
Victory finally hit back in the 66th minute through a moment of individual brilliance from Toivonen.
Tim Payne's shallow clearance fell to the Victory skipper, who stormed through the box and brushed off Taylor before finishing with aplomb. It gave the home side the impetus they needed, and they controlled the game from there - but without reward.
Victory almost took the lead in the 78th minute when Storm Roux went on a charging run down the right flank, slipping the ball to Elvis Kamsoba. The winger cut the ball back to Toivonen, whose shot forced a Stefan Marinovic save.
Toivonen had another shot flash wide in the 80th minute, while Thomas denied Alex Rufer with a commanding save in the 87th minute - with both sides forced to settle for a point.