Match Report: Western United 2-1 Melbourne Victory – Last 16 bound

Western United Australia Cup

Western United advanced to the Round of 16 of the Australia Cup with a first ever win in the competition proper, defeating cross town rivals Melbourne Victory 2-1 on Wednesday night.

United opened the scoring after Victory defender George Timotheou diverted a cross into his own net before a long-range effort from Jake Brimmer restored parity just after half-time.

But Lachie Wales proved to be the match winner for the Green and Black as he was on hand to finish a Ben Garuccio cross from close range to secure the win, knocking out the reigning cup winners in the process.

Team News

The headline team news for Western United was a maiden start for Rhys Bozinovski in midfield. The 18-year-old made four substitute appearances last season, including in the Isuzu UTE A-League Men Grand Final, but was in the starting lineup for the first time.

Dylan Wenzel-Halls led the line with Nicolas Milanovic just behind him, while the back five that proved so impenetrable throughout the A-League Men campaign started together once again.

First Half

With both sides still going through the early stages of pre-season, the opening minutes were as much about the teams feeling each other out as they were about one side taking the ascendancy.

Victory began to get on the front foot and had a couple of shots at Jamie Young’s goal, though none of them troubled the United goalkeeper.

As United began to grow into the game with Bozinovski and Steven Lustica finding more of the ball in the middle of the pitch, the opening goal came after some lovely build-up play.

Nicolas Milanovic threaded an excellent through ball to Lachie Wales on the right-wing, and the No.8’s teasing delivery was turned into his own net by George Timotheou in the 24th minute.

Josh Risdon made an important block from Ben Folami towards the end of a first-half that was largely without notable goalmouth action at either end, as United kept the lead into the break.  

Second Half

Victory burst out of the blocks in the second half and equalised soon after the restart thanks to a superb long-range strike from Jake Brimmer.

But it didn’t take long for United to hit back with another carefully put together move, as Leo Lacroix played a lifted a ball out wide to Ben Garuccio who put the ball on a plate for Wales to tap home in the six-yard box.

United safely guarded a series of Victory corners just before the hour mark and had a couple of crosses into the box that just failed to connect as John Aloisi’s men sought a two-goal lead.

Tomoki Imai made a stunning last-ditch tackle to deny Victory their second equaliser before Connor Pain drew a good stop from Paul Izzo as the game approached its final quarter.

Victory then spurned a golden opportunity to draw level when substitute Cadete missed from point blank range, firing wide at the back post after the ball broke for him from a corner.

The visitors brought new signing Nani off the bench for the final six minutes, and the Portuguese had an effort tipped onto the crossbar by Young but couldn’t bring his side back into the game as United advanced to the Round of 16 of the Australia Cup for the first time.