Dynamic duo strike again as Victory extend unbeaten run in comfortable win over Canberra

Melbourne Victory extended their unbeaten run to six straight games in a 2-0 win over Canberra United.

Melbourne Victory have extended their unbeaten run to six straight games after seeing off Canberra United 2-0 at AAMI Park.

McKenzie Weinert and Kurea Okino continued their fine debut seasons for the club, finding the net either side of half-time on Saturday afternoon.

Their opponents Canberra went down to 10 players in the second-half after goalkeeper Chloe Lincoln was sent off, making the job all the more difficult for the visitors.

It’s been a brilliant run for Victory, who have now won four games and drawn two since losing the opening two matches of the campaign and sit third on the ladder.

They are now within three points of league leaders Melbourne City, who they face in next Saturday’s Derby at AAMI Park.

Meanwhile, Canberra drop to last on the table, unable to build off their first win of the campaign last weekend and remain five points outside the top six, albeit with two games in hand.

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Canberra were boosted pre-game when Vesna Milivojevic was handed a start, despite an injury scare in Round 7, but the Serbia international’s influence was quelled by Victory’s resolute backline.

Victory started the strongest and immediately pinned the visitors inside their own half. Okino was found in some space just inside the box after some nice work down the left flank from Beattie Goad, forcing a quality save from Lincoln.

Jeff Hopkins’ side wouldn’t have to wait much longer for their opener, with Weinert firing home her third goal of the campaign.

After some beautiful interplay down the left wing, Jamilla Rankin played a well-hit, first-time cross to Weinert whose shot was fumbled into the back of the net by Lincoln.

Victory continued to ramp up the pressure heading into half-time as both Tori Hansen and Kayla Morrison forced saves from Lincoln, before Weinert curled another effort over the crossbar.

Any hope of a Canberra comeback was quickly made all the more difficult after half-time, as Rachel Lowe broke through on goal and was brought down by the on-rushing Lincoln.

Referee Georgia Ghirardello immediately reached for her pocket and sent off the Canberra keeper, creating an opportunity for backup Coco Majstorovic.

Moments later, Victory’s lead was two. Alana Murphy played a lovely ball in-behind to Okino, who rounded Majstorovic and scored her third goal in three consecutive matches.

Victory would continue to pressure the visitors as they chased a third, with Lowe forcing a smart save from Majstorovic in the dying moments, as Hopkins’ charges cruised to yet another win.

The talking point

Canberra were already fighting an uphill battle when they were down a goal heading into the second-half, but the job was made all the more difficult when Chloe Lincoln was sent off.

The Canberra keeper came off her line and collected Rachel Lowe as she looked to round Lincoln, with referee Georgia Ghirardello immediately giving the 18-year-old her marching orders.

Lincoln will miss the clash against Central Coast Mariners as a result of her dismissal, opening the door for Coco Majstorovic to come into the starting lineup after playing the final portion of the contest.

“It is what it is… I thought she’d taken a touch and gone away from goal with the ball and then Chloe got her a little bit late,” Canberra coach Njegosh Popovich said.

“I think the judgment of the field for us was a bit of an issue for today and Chloe included, so it is what it is.

“I thought that with 10 players… demonstrated some really good resistance and thought Coco (Majstorovic) coming off the bench was fantastic for us as well.

“I think she’s (Lincoln) pretty resilient though. I think that she’ll bounce back. She’s one of the best goalkeepers in the country for her age and without any doubt the future looks bright for her.”

The star

Alana Murphy continues to grow into her role in the middle of the park with each passing week.

The Melbourne Victory youngster starred once again, teeing up Kurea Okino for their second goal, continuing a promising season in her first year as a fully fledged starter in Jeff Hopkins’ side.

“Murph’s been excellent all season,” Hopkins said post-game.

“We know how valuable she is to us. She’s growing every every week… at times, she can to kind of turn it on and do whatever she wants.

“She needs to build that consistency. I thought she was excellent today, but I’m one that wants perfection. She was good today, but she wasn’t perfect.”

What this means

Melbourne Victory go into next weekend’s Derby with plenty of wind in their sails.

Jeff Hopkins’ side are unbeaten in six games and sit third on the ladder, coming up against a Melbourne City side that are vulnerable after two games without a win.

A win, and some help in the other games could see them go into Christmas sitting top of the league.

Meanwhile, Canberra are rooted to the bottom of the league after Adelaide United’s win over Wellington Phoenix.

They return home to face Central Coast Mariners next Saturday.