Brown ‘outstanding’ on Brisbane return

Corey Brown's display on his return to Suncorp Stadium drew praise from Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat, after the defending champions beat Brisbane Roar 4-2.

Brown was making something of an emotional homecoming to Brisbane, where he had played the whole of his career until moving to Melbourne in the off-season.

His return could well have ended in a serious injury, when he was clattered by Eric Bautheac's challenge 20 minutes into the match.

But he managed to avoid the full force of the tackle, which earned a yellow card for the Frenchman and moments later a second booking for shoving, and played an excellent game, according to Muscat.

"He was fairly lucky in that tackle that he didn't get injured, but I thought his performance and his discipline and control was outstanding," said the coach.

"I had a couple of chats with Corey. He's been steadily building and tonight, to get caught up in an emotion, going back to your old club, sometimes distracts you from what's important to yourself and the team."

It was the first game Brown had played in an opposition team in Brisbane, a city where he grew up and played 88 times for the Roar and where his father Rod was an NSL Grand Finalist with Brisbane Strikers.

The left wing-back helped Victory secure a sixth consecutive win, which put them at least temporarily back at the top of the A-League table.

Kosta Barbarouses scored twice for the visitors, Keisuke Honda netted from the penalty spot and Ola Toivonen scored for Victory and then headed an own goal minutes later.

Muscat was again without defender Georg Niedermeier, who will hope to overcome his bruised ankle in time for next weekend's derby against Melbourne City.

Victory are 5/4 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 21/10 with the draw 12/5.

Victory are 7/1 to win the game 1-0.

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Six of the best as Victory go top

Melbourne Victory took over at the top of the A-League table with a sixth consecutive win, as they beat Brisbane Roar 4-2.

A remarkable game at Suncorp Stadium saw six goals, two penalties and a red card in the first half.

Victory's Ola Toivonen scored at both ends, heading an own goal just 10 minutes after putting his team ahead 2-1.

Brisbane were reduced to 10 men only 20 minutes into the match, when French marquee Eric Bautheac was shown two yellow cards, but still they managed to score twice before half-time.

The goals were all confined to a 34-minute period in the first-half, but the game started with a dramatic escape for Victory, who cleared the ball off their goalline three times within seconds.

Avraam Papadopoulos, Adam Taggart and Stefan Mauk were all denied, to the home crowd's disbelief, and the Roar conceded the first goal on 13 minutes.

Kosta Barbarouses got the first of his two on the night when he swept home a James Troisi pass, after Keisuke Honda had won the ball in midfield.

Brisbane's hopes took another big dent seven minutes later when Bautheac launched into a wild challenge on Victory defender Corey Brown.

He earned a yellow card for the challenge, but then became involved in a scuffle off the ball and referee Adam Fielding dismissed him.

The 10 men levelled from the penalty spot when Honda tripped Adam Taggart inside the area and the Roar striker picked himself up to convert.

Toivonen put the visitors back in front, sweeping home his third goal in as many games, and it became 3-1 with five minutes to go to half-time.

Daniel Bowles was pinged for a handball in the box and Honda stepped up to net his fifth goal of the campaign.

Toivonen misdirected a header when Alex Lopez sent in a free-kick to get the Roar back into the game at 3-2, but there was still time for a sixth goal of the half.

Two minutes into added time, Honda and Troisi set up Barbarouses for the All Whites international to net against his former club.

The Roar are 15/8 to win their next game against Wellington, who are 11/8 with the draw 12/5.

Brisbane are 10/1 to win the game 1-0.

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Roar retain confidence in Aloisi

Coach John Aloisi has been given a vote of confidence but Brisbane Roar know they need to get their season going soon.

The Roar have only won one of their first seven games, and find themselves second from bottom in the A-League.

It makes their home game against defending champions Melbourne Victory on Friday vital, as they are already 11 points off leaders Perth Glory.

Brisbane's last home match produced a 2-0 win over Melbourne City, but they have since lost on the road against Adelaide United and Newcastle.

It's a tough sequence of games for Aloisi's side, who will be back on the road for three consecutive games after they host Victory.

It's not the kind of start the club had been expecting, after they had recruited a number of talented players like Adam Taggart, Australian under-23 international Stefan Mauk and Spanish midfielder Alex Lopez.

Roar vice-chairman Christopher Fong said: "There's a lot of pressure on the playing group and the football department to perform better than they have; not just from the board, but I think from themselves.

"It's still early days; we certainly have a good roster on paper, there's just something missing and we're confident that John's going to pull it around."

Brisbane will be facing a Victory side who have won five games in a row to move up to second in the table.

Captain Matt McKay says the Roar have played well the past two weeks without getting anything from their games.

"It's not panic stations … we're all in it together, the whole club … this club is going to fight and get to where we belong," he added.

Taggart should be available to start after coming off the bench against the Jets due to a groin niggle, while Mauk will be in the frame as he continues to recover from concussion.

Brisbane are 33/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Roar are 13/5 to win their next game against Melbourne Victory, who are 1/1 with the draw 5/2.

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Broxham keen to keep winning

Leigh Broxham is happy to see a winning mentality building at Melbourne Victory as they look to defend their A-League championship.

Victory saw off Adelaide United 2-0 at Marvel Stadium to secure a fifth consecutive win. Having started with defeats in their first two games, Kevin Muscat's side have emerged as the leading challengers to unbeaten Perth Glory.

They are only two points behind Perth after seven rounds and they will travel to Suncorp Stadium this weekend confident of making it six wins in a row.

Broxham, who has spent his entire career with Victory, knows what it takes to make a championship-winning squad – he's won four Grand Finals during his time, as well as three premierships.

"We are not losing our minds celebrating in the changing rooms but it's the drive of winning, getting that winning mentality which is important for us," said the one-cap Socceroo.

Speaking of the game against the Reds, Broxham added: "It took a while to break them down; they work hard, they are resilient. they work for each other.

"We knew that's what it would be like, we knew we had to keep going and breaking them down and we did that in the second half."

Broxham now ranks fourth on the all-time list of games played in the A-League, with 271, while Andrew Durante and Nikolai Topor-Stanley are the only active players above him on the list.

Muscat is delighted with the was Broxham was able to adjust to a new role early in the Adelaide game after an injury to German centre back Georg Niedermeier.

The coach said: "Georg comes back in and, after moments, after minutes, we've had to reshuffle and it was a credit to Terry [Antonis] and Leigh, who had to restructure and play different positions and they picked that up very, very quickly."

Melbourne Victory are 4/1 to win the Grand Final and 11/10 to win their next game against Brisbane Roar, who are 23/10 with the draw 5/2.

Raised tempo the key says Muscat

Kevin Muscat was happy with the way his Melbourne Victory side injected pace into the game after half-time as they beat Adelaide United 2-0.

The defending champions secured a fifth win on the trot thanks to goals from Kosta Barbarouses and Ola Toivonen in the second half.

It was the way his team responded to his instructions during the break to speed things up that gave the coach most satisfaction, after a win that kept them two points behind leaders Perth Glory.

"At half-time, the focus was to move the ball a little bit quicker and raise the tempo. I thought the game was slowed down at every opportunity in the first half," said Muscat.

"When we can control things, we want it to be played at a high speed, at a high tempo and that started from Leigh (Broxham), Lawrence (Thomas) and Thomas (Deng) because they had a lot of possession and in the end, I thought we were good value, very good value, for the three points."

Victory have now won three in a row at Marvel Stadium, and they pleased their coach by showing they could overcome an early reshuffle.

Georg Niedermeier needed to be substituted early in the game when he picked up an injury on his return to the side.

"After minutes, we've had to reshuffle and it was a credit to Terry (Antonis) and Leigh, who had to restructure and play different positions and they picked that up very, very quickly," said Muscat. "James Troisi comes on after having a virus for a little while and not really training too much and he had to dig deep for the team so all in all it was a pleasing result."

Melbourne Victory are 4/1 to win the Grand Final.

Victory are 11/10 to win their next game against Brisbane Roar, who are 23/10 with the draw 5/2.

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Victory extend winning run

Melbourne Victory stayed two points behind A-League leaders Perth as they made it five straight wins by seeing off Adelaide United 2-0 at Marvel Stadium.

Both goals came in the second half, from Kosta Barbarouses and Ola Toivonen, after Marco Kurz's side had matched the hosts before the break.

The two teams struggled to create clear-cut chances, with Adelaide having the better of the opportunities before they fell behind.

Victory suffered an early setback when the returning Georg Niedermeier had to come off due to an ankle injury.

The visitors came close to taking the lead on 15 minutes when full-back Michael Marrone's header from a corner rebounded off the crossbar.

Victory saw Toivonen's 20-yard effort palmed away by keeper Paul Izzo soon after, and Kevin Muscat's side had penalty shouts for handball turned down.

Keeper Lawrence Thomas did well either side of the break to keep out United.

First he made a good save down low to deny Marrone in first-half added time, then he closed down Apostolos Stamatelopoulos early in the second half, with the forward poking his shot wide.

A Stamatelopoulos header flashed just wide on the hour mark, but it was Victory who went ahead.

Toivonen forced a good save from Izzo with a header from Terry Antonis' cross, and Barbarouses was able to tuck away the rebound for his second goal in as many games.

The Reds threatened to level 17 minutes from time when Ben Halloran had a one-on-one with Thomas, with the keeper able to push away his shot.

Thomas was twice called into action just before Victory's second goal, tipping over a Marrone cross-cum-shot and then stopping Craig Goodwin's effort.

Toivonen played a one-two with Antonis to create the chance for him to finish into the bottom corner and secure the three points.

Adelaide United are 10/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Reds are 5/4 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 2/1 with the draw 5/2.

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Muscat: United have improved

Kevin Muscat rates Adelaide United as a better side than the one they knocked out of last season's Finals Series, ahead of the coach leading Melbourne City in the round seven clash.

The Reds finished just two points behind Victory in the final standings in 2017/18, which is the same gap that exists between the two clubs now.

Muscat's side edged United 2-1 in their elimination final meeting on the way to securing the championship.

It needed a last-gasp strike from Besart Berisha to take Victory through and the defending champions suggested they might be missing the forward when they began the new campaign with two defeats in a row.

They've not put a step wrong since then, though, winning four on the bounce to move up to second in the table.

Adelaide have also had good recent form, picking up three wins in their last four games going into the Marvel Stadium clash.

And Muscat regards United as a tougher proposition this term, saying: "(Coach Marco Kurz) has done a fantastic job in relation to the way they play and what we've seen in our preparations. They've improved structurally on where they were last season."

Victory go into the game having thrashed Western Sydney 4-0 in their last match, and their coach added: "We've worked on reproducing the performance … there will be different questions asked in the game but the one thing that stays constant is that we rely on what we do."

German defender Georg Niedermeier will make his return for Victory after recovering from concussion while attacker James Troisi is also back after illness.

But Muscat is without Nick Ansell, who picked up a shoulder injury late in the Wanderers match.

Melbourne Victory are 10/11 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 3/1 with the draw 13/5.

Lia seeks a compact United

Vince Lia admits Adelaide United will have to improve their defensive form when they take on Melbourne Victory at Marvel Stadium.

The Reds have the second-best record in the A-League in terms of goals conceded, with only last season's Premier's Plate winners Sydney having let in fewer.

But the way Victory are playing, with four consecutive wins taking them up to second spot, Lia says they won't be able to afford any mistakes in Melbourne.

The Reds are up to fourth in the table, on the back of three wins from their last four matches.

They've won both of their away matches so far this season, against Central Coast and Wellington, but those two teams are in the bottom two and taking on the defending champions will be a tougher prospect.

Lia said of Kevin Muscat's side: "For them to be in this form early shows they're a very good team, and they're going to be title contenders, the favourites probably.

"They've got so many players that can hurt you, so I think if you focus on (Keisuke) Honda alone you'll get hurt by (James) Troisi or (Terry) Antonis, who's having a good year, Kosta's (Barbarouses) up front."

The holding midfielder, who has started all but one of the Reds' games this season, added: "We've to be better defensively, more compact, and more solid. I think if we give them as many chances as we've given some other teams in the last few weeks we'll get punished."

Coach Marco Kurz has included centre-back Michael Jakobsen in his extended squad following a minor injury complaint.

Adelaide United are 9/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Reds are 14/5 to win their next game against Melbourne Victory, who are 10/11 with the draw 14/5.

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Thomas: Restricting chances key

Keeper Lawrence Thomas believes Melbourne Victory's improvement over the past three A-League games has been down to their focus on defence.

Kevin Muscat's side started the defence of their championship poorly, with defeats in their opening two games, but they've now rattled off three consecutive wins, the latest in their Big Blue clash with Sydney FC at Jubilee Oval on Sunday.

Thomas says the team are working on the basis that the fewer chances they give up, the fewer goals they will concede.

Having shipped five goals over the first two rounds, Victory have now just conceded two in their past three matches.

"I think that a big difference between now and our first two weeks is we aren't giving away too many chances," said the keeper. "We've got so much quality going forward that if we can be ruthless at the back and clinical in attack, we'll give ourselves every chance to win."

Having picked up three points from both difficult away games so far – against last season's beaten Grand Finalists Newcastle and then against the Sky Blues – it's given Muscat's side a boost going into consecutive home matches.

They face Western Sydney and Adelaide United over the next two weeks, and will be confident of dispatching a Wanderers side who have only won one of their first five games.

Thomas said: "The group is very upbeat. To start the season with two losses and bounce back like we have, we're very pleased, very relaxed and looking forward to a new week and the Wanderers up next."

Victory are 5/6 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 16/5, with the draw 11/4.

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Muscat praises ‘intelligent’ Toivonen

Swedish forward Ola Toivonen will get better as he nears full match sharpness Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat believes.

The defending champions hope the striker, who played for Sweden at the World Cup in Russia this year, will provide a regular supply of goals this season.

He missed the start of the campaign through a nagging calf injury and isn't yet fully fit, but he bagged his first Victory goal in the 2-1 win over Sydney FC at Jubilee Stadium.

The win took Muscat's side up to second in the table, above the Sky Blues, with Toivonen giving them the lead in the first half and Keisuke Honda netting the winner after the break.

It was Toivonen's first start for the club and he lasted almost 70 minutes in a promising sign of his improving fitness.

He scored from James Troisi's pass 23 minutes into the match, while the former PSV Eindhoven forward made a good impression on his coach during his stint partnering Kosta Barbarouses up front.

"(I'm) looking forward to getting him really match fit, because he's fit at the moment but it's a different fitness playing games," said Muscat.

"He's an intelligent footballer; he makes some really clever runs. We'll utilise him better going forward and likewise him getting to understand his team-mates will help."

The coach said the 32-year-old was clever in the way he drew in people, and he was sure he would continue to improve.

Muscat wants his midfield to link up better with the marquee import, who has joined on a two-year contract.

"The amount of times he was bringing the two central defenders short leaving space in behind, we didn't utilise that space with Kosta or Jimmy (Trois) anywhere near enough," he said.

Victory are 5/6 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 3/1, with the draw 11/4.

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