Victory beaten! Undefeated run over as Kurto masterclass lifts Bulls amid penalty controversy

Catch the highlights as Melbourne Victory hosted Macarthur FC in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

Macarthur FC snapped Melbourne Victory’s unbeaten record in the Isuzu UTE A-League thanks to Filip Kurto after the star goalkeeper saved a late Bruno Fornaroli penalty in controversial scenes.

Victory huffed and puffed, and had the chance to equalise with six minutes of regulation remaining after Jake Hollman had given in-form Macarthur a 21st-minute lead at AAMI Park on Saturday.

But Golden Boot leader Fornaroli saw his spot-kick kept out by Kurto, though the Victory star and the home supporters felt the ball had crossed the line as Macarthur weathered a second-half storm in Melbourne. Kurto after the match insisted the ball didn’t cross the line.

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Victory had 29 shots and nine on target, compared to Macarthur’s six with one on target throughout the contest.

Kurto’s masterclass saw Macarthur rise up to third in the standings as they equalled their longest undefeated streak in the history of the Isuzu UTE A-League (seven games), while Victory dropped to fourth after tasting defeat for the first time in 2023-24 after a 15-match unbeaten run.

“That might be the best individual performance of any player this season,” Commentator Teo Pellizzeri said of the man-of-the-match display on Paramount+ afterwards which saw Kurto make nine saves.

“And it is a season where Bruno Fornaroli has scored four goals in two different games!”

Co-commentator and former Liberty A-League player Rhali Dobson added: The battle between Kurto and Fornaroli, it was two forces of nature against each other.

“And Kurto’s had the game, in my opinion, of his life. He’s done exceptionally well. You just can’t fault him.”

“You have to give credit to Kurto. He’s held the fort and controlled the game,” she said.

Fornaroli was back in Victory’s starting XI after his AFC Asian Cup campaign with the Socceroos in Qatar, where Australia reached the quarter-finals.

He had an early warning shot for Macarthur – the veteran striker got in behind the defence but his goal-bound effort was blocked in the 11th minute.

Victory were on top during the early exchanges as Connor Chapman’s header hit the crossbar three minutes later.

But Macarthur broke the deadlock against the run of play in the 21st minute, when a swift attacking move ended with Hollman scooping the ball over Paul Izzo after his initial effort was blocked.

The Bulls should have made it 2-0 10 minutes before half-time, however, Lachlan Rose wasted a gilt-edged chance. He fired wide of the post from in front of goal following a sensational run from Raphael Borges Rodrigues.

It was a huge let-off for Victory, who saw Chapman glance a header just wide of the post a minute later while Fornaroli rattled the crossbar two minutes prior to the interval.

Ben Folami engineered a dangerous moment for Victory early in the second half and all that was missing was a touch after the ball travelled across the six-yard box and eluded Fornaroli.

Fornaroli also had his appeals for a penalty turned down moments later.

With 19 minutes remaining, Macarthur goalkeeper Filip Kurto came up big again when he kept out Damien Da Silva’s header.

Victory were denied one of their goals of the season following a sweeping move, however, it was foiled by Kurto, who denied Fornaroli two minutes later.

Fornaroli continued to try to will Victory on in search of an equaliser and his audacious and acrobatic bicycle kick nearly drew the home side level as it skimmed the roof of the net during the final 12 minutes before some last-ditch defending from Macarthur kept out Nishan Velupillay.

After Kurto kept out a thunderous Zinedine Machach effort, Macarthur conceded a penalty when Kealey Adamson brought down Roderick Miranda in the 83rd minute.

Fornaroli stepped up to take the spot-kick but it was again kept out by Kurto, though the Victory talisman felt the ball crossed the line as he and the supporters protested.