The brilliance of Danny Allsopp and Carlos Hernandez helped Melbourne Victory’s Hyundai A-League campaign spring to life in a stunning 3-3 shoot-out against the Brisbane Roar at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
Trailing 3-1 at half-time, superb strikes by Allsopp (63rd minute) and Hernandez (69th) ensured the Victory lodged its first point of the season after a surprise opening-round loss to Central Coast.
Hernandez was dangerous all night, having opened the Victory’s account with a brilliant strike from just outside the box in the 33rd minute.
The Victory showed great tenacity to recover after the Roar had silenced the local crowd with goals by Danny Tiatto (22nd minute), Sergio van Dijk (24th minute) and Henrique (36th minute) in an exhilarating 14-minute burst in the first half.
It was Melbourne-born Tiatto who set the game alight when he accepted a pass from Matt McKay and drilled a 25m rocket, just the second goal of his Hyundai A-League career.
Melbourne barely had a chance to regather when the flashy Henrique intercepted a midfield pass, dashed along left wing and was awarded a penalty by referee Strebre Delovski after being brought down in the box.
Van Dijk, already causing problems of his own, capitalised on the free kick.
A shell-shocked Melbourne hit back in the 33rd minute when Nick Ward, shifted to right back in Kevin Muscat’s absence, crossed to Hernandez, who thundered the ball through from just outside the box.
The Victory appeared to have regained its composure but that changed in the 36th minute when Henrique’s run along left wing and brilliance to deceive three defenders resulted in a superb goal from just outside the box.
It was the first time in two years the Victory had conceded three goals before half-time.
The deficit could have been worse minutes after resumption, had stand-in captain Rodrigo Vargas not stopped Henrique’s deft shot on the goal-line.
Coach Ernie Merrick sparked the Victory by replacing Nick Ward with Billy Celeski and Grant Brebner with Ney Fabiano.
The Victory lifted its intensity and the renewed focus paid off in the 63rd minute when Allsopp superbly volleyed a pass from Hernandez that had rebounded off the head of Roar defender Luke Devere.
Hernandez then knotted scores and produced the highlight of the night six minutes later after Fabiano had been awarded a free kick on the left side of the box.
Hernandez sent his team-mates into raptures when his strike from left-side curled past goalkeeper Liam Reddy and into the right side of the net.
The Victory continued to press but shots by the goal-less Archie Thompson and third substitute Surat Sukha, couldn’t find their mark.
Melbourne Victory 3 (Hernandez 33, 69, Allsopp 63)
Brisbane Roar 3 (Tiatto 22, Van Dijk 24, Henrique 36)
Courtesy of Melbourne Victory.