Fornaroli scores again as Victory turn on the class in Big Blue triumph

Watch all the highlights from Melbourne Victory's 3-0 win over Sydney FC in Saturday night's Big Blue

Golden Boot leader Bruno Fornaroli scored his 12th goal of the campaign as Melbourne Victory launched to a 3-0 win over Sydney FC in Saturday night’s Big Blue at AAMI Park.

Fornaroli put the finishing touch on the win over the Sky Blues, after Daniel Arzani and Zinedine Machach put the home side two goals clear before half-time in Melbourne.

Machach assisted Fornaroli’s sealer to cap off his own stellar showing as Tony Popovic’s unbeaten Victory jumped to the top of the Isuzu UTE A-League table while handing Sydney a second-consecutive defeat.

Ufuk Talay’s Sydney will finish Round 8 in 10th, with just two wins from eight games and having failed to score a goal in any of their six defeats to date.

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An enthralling first-half ended with Victory on top – and despite fashioning a number of opportunities, the Sky Blues somehow remained goalless at the break.

Victory keeper Paul Izzo contributed a pair of massive saves to keep Sydney at bay in the first half, beginning with a miraculous stop to deny Jake Girdwood-Reich a near-certain goal.

When Izzo scooped the Sydney youngster’s header off the goal line and around the post, the visitors were adamant the ball had crossed the line but play on was the call.

Machach led a rampant Victory counter attack in the aftermath of the nearly-moment down the other end, with some desperate defending from Rhyan Grant denying the hosts the opening goal.

But Victory didn’t have to wait long to take the lead, with Arzani’s classy finish from the edge of the area breaking the deadlock.

Victory hit Sydney with a one-two punch, as Machach doubled the advantage four minutes after Arzani’s opener, lobbing his shot over Sydney keeper Adam Pavlesic after Jake Brimmer’s poked through ball.

Sydney toiled to find a way back into the Big Blue, and thought they had produced the equaliser through Fabio Gomes before the slimmest of offside calls curtailed their celebrations.

Jack Rodwell, in his first Sydney appearance this season, put Izzo to the test with a header from a set piece that the Victory gloveman did well to parry away from danger.

Girdwood-Reich flashed a shot past the post, while Bruno Fornaroli and Ben Folami threatened Sydney’s goal down the other end as an all-action first half drew to a close with Victory holding a 2-0 lead.

Just before the hour mark, Victory went three goals clear with Machach and Fornaroli combining in style.

A turnover by Girdwood-Reich sparked the Victory attack, with Machach collecting the ball to drive at Sydney’s central defenders. For a moment it looked as though Machach had delayed too long to find Fornaroli, but after luring both of the Sky Blues’ centre-backs into his orbit, Machach slid a pass wide to Fornaroli who was all alone in the box.

Fornaroli opened up his body for a curling strike off his non-preferred left foot, whipping the ball into the back of the net.

The visitors dominated the second-half chances and were unlucky not to find a consolation goal. Jaiden Kucharski struck the post late and Izzo continued to come up with quality saves to keep his clean sheet intact.

The talking point

Bruno Fornaroli was the man of the hour once again after bagging his 12th goal in just his eighth appearance of the season to help Victory defeat the Sky Blues.

And as it so often has been in recent weeks, one of the first talking points on the post-game agenda was whether the 36-year-old has done enough to convince Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold to bring him back into the international fray for the AFC Asian Cup in January.

If you ask Sydney FC legend Alex Brosque, Fornaroli’s ticket to Qatar and the Asian Cup should already be purchased.

Fornaroli has put together one of the great starts to an Isuzu UTE A-League season by an individual player, and after watching him turn it on again against his former side, Brosque said Victory’s star man brings something different to the table that no other player in contention for a spot in the Asian Cup squad can offer.

“Absolutely, he’s got a ticket already,” he said.

“If I’m Arnie (Graham Arnold), I’ve called him up, I’ve booked his ticket, I’ve sent it to him and he’s on the plane.

“I don’t see how you can leave him out… he has to be there, he’s in form.

“Everything he’s doing at the moment, the way he’s creating goals, bringing players in, nobody else is doing it.”

The star

Zinedine Machach showed all of his class in a majestic display for Victory in the Big Blue. His first-half goal was a thing of beauty, dinked over outrushing Sydney keeper Adam Pavlesic to find the back of the net.

His second-half assist was of equal calibre. Just when it looked like Machach had delayed on the ball a split-second too long, he squeezed a pass through the narrow gap between Sydney centre-backs Gabriel Lacerda and Jack Rodwell – the two players he’d lured into a trap – to find Fornaroli all alone to finish.

Post-game, Victory great Archie Thompson waxed lyrical about Machach’s influence on the Big Blue.

“It’s his physicality, it’s the effort, wanting to get forward,” Thompson said. “I love (that) he just does the simple things really well. If there’s a better ball to be played, he will play it.

“He’s really effective, he’s so strong and his vision is just outstanding. He’s been incredible for Melbourne Victory.”