Muscat left to rue Victory’s defensive mentality

Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat has suggested a defensive mindset may have cost his side the full three points against Western Sydney.

Wanderers substitute Brendon Santalab netted an 89th minute equaliser on Saturday night to cancel out Besart Berisha’s 16th minute opener, preventing Victory from surging to third on the Hyundai A-League table.

The Wanderers dominated possession (62%) and had 10 more shots on target than Victory and Muscat believes his side may have tried to “hold on to the lead, rather than go and get a second” goal.

Wanderers strike late to earn point against Victory

“Having said that, Western Sydney pinned us in in the second half and we just couldn’t get it out, couldn’t retain possession as much as we would have liked to, to get into the attacking third of the park,” Muscat said.

“Then when we did keep possession…the game was stopped almost every time we did keep possession. From that perspective, it was a little bit frustrating for us because we couldn’t build any momentum.”

Victory striker Besart Berisha controls the ball in front of Wanderers winger Romeo Castelen.

Muscat lauded the efforts of his defence and goalkeeper Danny Vukovic for keeping the Wanderers at bay until almost the final whistle, but was bitterly disappointed his team could not avenge last week’s shock loss to Perth Glory.

Victory toiled away in the second half without key playmaker Gui Finkler (shoulder) while defender Matthieu Delpierre battled through the pain of a twisted left knee sustained on the stroke of half-time.

Santalab’s late equaliser spoiled the 200-game celebrations for Victory’s Leigh Broxham.

“It’s a milestone, but tonight was a game for three points,” Broxham said.

“I would have probably reflected a bit more if we had the win, but it’s a nice milestone and there’s still a lot of this season to go.

“We fought hard in the second half. If we had retained possession a little bit more, it would have been easier, but it’s disappointing not to win.”