Super sub’s first A-Leagues goal fires Western to dramatic comeback win over Victory

WATCH: Western United came from a goal down to defeat Melbourne Victory at City Vista Reserve on Sunday afternoon.

A 90th-minute winner from Keiwa Hieda has sealed a dramatic win for Western United, coming from a goal behind to defeat Melbourne Victory 2-1 in difficult conditions at City Vista Reserve.

Emma Checker gave Victory the lead in the 15th minute, before Melissa Taranto bundled home an equaliser in the 66th minute.

With minutes remaining, Hieda came off the bench to tap home the winner and give Western their first win of the new season, while Victory remain winless from their opening two games for a second successive campaign.

It’s the Japanese attacker’s first A-Leagues goal after making her club debut in last week’s loss to Perth Glory. She signed for the club this off-season on a scholarship deal, following an impressive campaign in NPLW Victoria with Calder United.

In an additional blow to Victory, goalkeeper Lydia Williams suffered an injury in the chaos of Hieda’s goal and had to be subbed off in second-half stoppage time.

Strong winds in Melbourne’s west caused all sorts of headaches on Sunday afternoon, as chances came at a premium for both sides.

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Chloe Logarzo was back in the Western starting lineup, playing her first match since January and her first start in Green and Black colours.

The star midfielder intriguingly played as a striker, with Golden Boot winner Hannah Keane shifting to the right wing to facilitate for her return as Mark Torcaso opted to stick with Melissa and Adriana Taranto in midfield, alongside Philippines international Jackie Sawicki.

Meanwhile, Elise Kellond-Knight made her return to the bench for Victory after rupturing her Achilles tendon earlier this year, but Emily Gielnik wasn’t included in the matchday squad.

It didn’t take long for Victory to strike first.

Beattie Goad’s corner was missed by Kayla Morrison at the near post, before bouncing past a sea of bodies to a waiting Checker, who looped her header over Western keeper Alyssa Dall’Oste for her first goal in Victory colours since returning to the club this off-season.

It was, in fact, only her second goal for the club, but the first in Victory colours in nine years and 346 days, which is the longest gap between goals for a club and the longest between a first and second goal – beating the record set by Katarina Jukic at Perth Glory, which sat at nine years and 57 days.

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Despite Victory’s one-goal lead, neither side was able to grab control of the contest as the game settled into a holding pattern.

Western, however, built their way into the contest after half-time, and brought the scores level just after the hour mark. Adriana Taranto’s corner was whipped into the near post and met by sister Melissa, who bundled the ball home after Victory keeper Lydia Williams was unable to get a glove on the set piece.

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The game opened up from then on as both sides chased a winner, with both McKenzie Weinert and Kahli Johnson trying their luck from range to no avail.

With the game seemingly destined for a draw, Keane fired a stinging effort at Williams, which was parried into the air, and when Checker looked set to clear the ball, Hieda ghosted in from the side to bundle the ball home and seal all three points for Western.

The Talking Point

It was the moment that separated the two sides at the final whistle, but it may have huge ramifications for both sides and – by extension – the national team.

Keiwa Hieda’s winner ensured Western United go into the international break with three points in tow, when just 20 minutes earlier it seemed as if they would be heading in without a point to their name.

Instead, it’s Melbourne Victory who go into the break with zero points on the board, and the cost of defeat may be greater than just the scoreline after Lydia Williams went down hurt with a potential back injury.

Williams was forced off the field after a collision in the seconds after Hieda’s winner and was replaced by Miranda Templeman for the final few minutes.

Victory coach Jeff Hopkins said he doesn’t believe she will have to go to hospital.

The goalkeeper is set to join her Matildas teammates in camp for the upcoming Paris Olympics qualifiers next week, but could be in doubt for international duty and club action after the break, depending on the severity of the blow.

The star

Keiwa Hieda. Remember the name.

The 23-year-old Japanese attacker was only on the field for a matter of minutes, before scoring the winner on Sunday afternoon.

It continues a brilliant calendar year for Hieda, who only signed her first A-Leagues deal with Western United this off-season, penning a scholarship contract in August.

Hieda burst onto the scene with Preston Lions in the 2022 season, helping the club secure promotion to the top tier of Victorian football – scoring 15 goals.

She was then brought to Calder United and continued her solid form for the club, winning the Teresa Deas Medal for her best afield showing in their victorious NIKE FC Cup Final against Bulleen Lions.

Hieda’s performances caught the eye of Western officials, with former Calder boss Mark Torcaso then signing her ahead of the new season, where she’s already made two appearances off the bench.

What they said

Western United coach Mark Torcaso: “We watched her (Hieda) over the last few years.

“The first year, obviously when she was in the VPL, and then she came to Calder last year with the ambition of playing in the A-League and we worked her pretty hard.

“At Calder, she developed pretty well and to come on and do that, myself and Helen (Winterburn) looked at each other straight after… We wanted someone who could can really come this league and provide spark and Keiwa was the one and she was pretty good all pre-season and to come out do that is excellent.”

Melbourne Victory coach Jeff Hopkins: ā€œI think she (Williams) got hit pretty hard just before the second goal went in, so I’m not really sure.

“I think it’s her back. I’m still waiting to hear, the doc is having a look at her at the moment so Iā€™m not 100% sure.ā€

What this means

Western go into the break with wind in their sails, bouncing back from a disappointing Round One loss.

Mark Torcaso will now head on international duty with the Philippines ahead of their upcoming Paris Olympics qualifiers, where they will face the Matildas in a week’s time.

Western return to action on November 5 in another local blockbuster against Melbourne City, a side they are still yet to taste defeat against in their short history.

Meanwhile, Victory are in a familiar position once more after successive seasons with the same form line to begin the campaign.

Jeff Hopkins’ side will be sweating on the fitness of Lydia Williams, but they have welcomed back Elise Kellond-Knight and hopefully, Emily Gielnik after the break.

They take on Adelaide United on November 4, in what shapes up as almost a must-win game for Victory.