Melbourne Victory has recorded consecutive wins for the first time this season after thumping the Newcastle Jets without star striker Ola Toivonen.
It was the Robbie Kruse show at AAMI Park as the Socceroo put in a man-of-the-match performance, scoring the opening goal before providing assists to Migjen Basha (61st minute) and Andrew Nabbout (64th minute) later in the match.
Prior to this match Toivonen had contributed to 81.8 per cent of Victory’s goals this season and with the side in dire need of someone to stand up – Kruse delivered in style.
The Victory now move within touching distance of the top six, with away trips to the Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United to come over the next fortnight.
Replacing Toivonen up front – Kruse wasted little time in launching the Victory deep into attack.
The Socceroo drew a foul on the right-wing inside the first minute, which was swung in by Jakob Poulsen onto Leigh Broxham whose header looped over the crossbar.
The Victory were rewarded for their bright start when Broxham’s long ball from the defensive half landed straight in front of Kruse, who made no mistake from close range – slipping the ball past Glen Moss after controlling the ball cleverly with his head.
While the Jets failed to create too many opportunities in the first half, the visitors certainly threw their weight around.
Bobby Burns set the tone with a heavy bump on Kruse in the 24th minute before Nikolai Topor-Stanley was fortunate to not be booked after a firm challenge on Kristian Dobras in midfield.
Playing against his former club, Andrew Nabbout nearly stole headlines with a spectacular effort in the 39th minute.
The Socceroos forward brought Broxham’s long pass down and away from Topor-Stanley with his chest, before striking it wide on his left foot from the edge of the area.
After a quiet first half Dimitri Petratos – who has scored a memorable goal at AAMI Park before – sought to galvinise his side with a first-time strike from outside the box which forced Lawrence Thomas into a low save in the 52nd minute.
At the other end Nabbout’s attempt to double his side’s lead went horribly wide, as his header inside the six-yard box drifting across the goal and cleared away in the 57th minute.
Though unlike previous weeks the Victory were not left ruing missed opportunities.
Migjen Basha capped off his birthday with a calm finish into the bottom corner in the 61st minute – his first goal for the club – before Nabbout put the result beyond doubt, smashing the ball past Moss from close range three minutes later.
Fullback Anthony Lesiotis provided the icing on the cake when his 86th minute cross was turned in by Matt Millar for an own goal.
The Victory showed no signs of any post-bye complacency as they outclassed their opponents and move into seventh on the table, on equal points with the sixth placed Adelaide United.
The Jets, meanwhile, conceded four goals for the fourth time this season, with a meeting with reigning Champions Sydney FC scheduled for Friday night.
Melbourne Victory 4 (Kruse 9’, Basha 61′, Nabbout 64′, Millar (OG) 86′)
Newcastle Jets 0
Lawrence Thomas (GK), Anthony Lesiotis, James Donachie, Leigh Broxham (C), Adama Traore, Jakob Poulsen, Migjen Basha (Jay Barnett 73’), Kristijan Dobras (Kenny Athiu 61’) Elvis Kamsoba, Robbie Kruse, Andrew Nabbout (Josh Hope 80′)
Brendan White, Storm Roux, Corey Brown,
Glen Moss (GK), Matt Millar, Lachlan Jackson, Nikolai Topor-Stanley (C), Bobby Burns (John Koutroumbis 46’ (Matthew Ridenton 86′) , Ben Kantarovski, Pat Langlois, Steven Ugarkovic, Dimitri Petratos, Angus Thurgate (Kaine Sheppard 62’), Jason Hoffman
Nicholas Fitzgerald, Lewis Italiano,