Melbourne has been painted navy blue this Christmas, as Ola Toivonen’s brace saw Melbourne Victory upset Melbourne City at AAMI Park.
Leading from the front, the Victory skipper headed two goals before half-time to record a famous derby win for the Victory – who climb up to seventh with just its third and most important win of the season.
Toivonen was forced off with injury in the 60th minute, but the Victory hung on without their captain, despite City pulling one back in the 56th minute through Harrison Delbridge.
Coming into the game with only two wins this season, the Victory kicked off like a team possessed and keen to make a statement.
Elvis Kamsoba had his debut goal ruled out in the season’s first Melbourne derby and nearly set the AAMI Park alight in the tenth minute when his blind volley was saved by Tom Glover, before Andrew Nabbout failed to guide the ball into the open net on the follow-up.
But Victory would get the goal its start deserved – with the captain standing up to deliver it.
Without a goal in his last three games, Toivonen opened the scoring in the 15th minute through a thumping header off a Nabbout cross for his fifth goal of the season.
The Swedish international would complete his brace just before the break – extending his side’s advantage in 41st minute after an attempted Curtis Good clearance from a Nabbout cross bounced off Glover and opened up for Toivonen to bury the easiest of chances.
Nabbout then should have put the game to bed six minutes after halftime when Kamsoba’s switch found the Socceroo in open space, but he was unable to direct his one-on-one with Glover on target.
It would not take long for the Victory to rue this opportunity as Harrison Delbridge pulled one back for City in the 57th minute. The City defender sent the ball into the bottom corner with a bullet of a header from a Javier Cabrera corner to ignite a spark for his side.
The Uruguayan then nearly had the equaliser four minutes later with only Adama Traore standing in between him and the goal, with the former Basel defender blocking the shot on target.
Victory fans were forced to hold their breath for the final half-hour when Toivonen was substituted after going down following the Cabrera attempt and making his way down the race.
Even without their captain the Victory looked dangerous in attack, with Migjen Basha having a header cleared off the line in the 66th minute from a Jakob Poulsen corner.
Robbie Kruse moved into Toivonen’s position, while Nabbout missed a third golden opportunity when Traore’s cross skimmed off his head and across the face of goal in the 82nd minute.
Meanwhile, Kamsoba was almost gifted his debut A-League goal a minute later, with the former Avondale forward pouncing on a calamitous turnover from Glover, the ball ricocheting off him and rolling just wide of the empty net.
City were unable to make their rivals pay for their missed chances, and the loss sees them fall six points behind the league leaders Sydney FC.
The Victory, meanwhile, head into the new year and their first bye of the season as winners – a timely Christmas present for their under-fire head coach Marco Kurz.
Melbourne City 1 (Delbridge 56’)
Melbourne Victory 2 (Toivonen 15’ & 41’)
Thomas Glover (GK), Scott Galloway, Scott Jamieson, Harrison Delbridge, Josh Brillante, Marcelo Cabrera (Nathaniel Atkinson 82′) Jamie Maclaren, Craig Noone (Lachlan Wales 70’), Adrian Luna, Curtis Good, Connor Metcalfe
Dean Bouzanis, Rostyn Griffiths, Florin Berenguer, Nathaniel Atkinson, Ramy Najjarine, Richard Windbichler
Lawrence Thomas (GK), James Donachie, Tim Hoogland, Leigh Broxham, Andrew Nabbout, Robbie Kruse, Ola Toivonen (Jakob Poulsen 62’) Elvis Kamsoba, Migjen Basha, Adama Traore, Anthony Lesiotis
Brendan White, Storm Roux, Corey Brown, Brandon Lauton, Jay Barnett