Star returns after 71-day absence from football to help Victory prolong Wellington’s road woes

Check out all the highlights from the Round 18 clash between Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix

A outstanding performance from the returning Beattie Goad has helped in-form Melbourne Victory thrash Wellington Phoenix 5-3 at the Home of the Matildas in Liberty A-League action.

Playing her first game in 71 days following medical study leave, Goad headed Victory in front after just 10 minutes before Tori Hansen then doubled their advantage soon after on Sunday.

The first-half barrage continued as Goad made it 3-0 in the 35th minute from a corner while Alex Chidiac’s ferocious shot deflected in off goalkeeper Rylee Foster to make it 4-0 before half-time.

A Jamilla Rankin own goal restored some hope for Wellington Phoenix but Rachel Lowe soon made it 5-1 to ultimately secure the three points for Victory.

Wellington did rally late on in the game with Michaela Robertson and Mariana Speckmaier scoring twice in the space of a minute but it was too little too late for the away side, who succumbed to their 10th loss of the season.

The win for MVictory ensures Jeff Hopkins’ side locked up fourth spot on the ladder while Wellington stay 10th on the ladder and four points outside the finals places.

The home side had all the early possession but were fortunate not to fall behind in the ninth minute; a sloppy back pass from Paige Zois pounced upon by Wellington forward Emma Main but her low shot was straight at the keeper.

Less than a minute later though and Melbourne Victory were in front. A long ball forward from Tori Hansen released Emily Gielnik down the right and the in-form Matildas striker delivered a pinpoint cross onto the head of the arriving Goad, who’s header sailed past Foster to make it 1-0.

Looking the more comfortable of the two sides, Victory then doubled their lead in the 17th minute. Goad’s in-swinging corner from the right was flicked on by a Wellington head and into the path of an unmarked Hansen at the back post, who had the simplest of tap-ins from a metre out.

Wellington keeper Foster was then called into action in the 25th minute, diving away to her right to stop a long-range effort from Zois finding the back of the net while she also produced another good save, this time denying Gielnik when one-on-one in the 33rd minute.

However Victory would soon turn their dominance into a third goal and it was the Gielnik-Goad combination which would prove to be unstoppable once again.

In what was almost a carbon-copy of their second, an in-swinging corner from the right was flicked on, this time by Gielnik, and into the path of Goad who couldn’t miss from a metre out having escaped some more lacklustre marking from the Wellington defence.

Chidiac then wrapped up the win before half-time and it was certainly the most spectacular of the four goals scored in the first half.

After a quick exchange of passes with Lowe, Chidiac let fly from the edge of the box and while her fierce effort was tipped onto the bar by Foster the ball subsequently cannoned back off the goalkeeper and into the back of the net to make it 4-0.

With nothing to lose, Wellington piled forward early in the second half and forced Victory goalkeeper Cortnee Newbon into a fine save as she tipped Alyssa Whinham’s long range strike over the bar.

The away side did get themselves on the scoreboard in the 57th minute, albeit via a Victory player, as defender Rankin headed into her own goal from a Wellington corner to make it 4-1.

Victory then restored their four goal cushion in the 64th minute as Lowe pounced on a loose ball inside the box to fire a low shot past Foster to make it 5-1.

Robertson made things interesting, lashing home a brilliant effort in the 90th minute to make it 5-2 while Speckmaier made it 5-3 less than a minute later but Victory’s dominant first half display ensured they went home with the points.