Don’t let the 3-0 shutout win for Melbourne Victory Football Club over Hume City Football Club in the FFA Cup semifinals at AAMI Park in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia fool you into thinking it was a clinical display from the team of teams in the Hyundai A-League. To be fair, it should have been 3-1. Ultimately, Victory won a war of attrition on the pitch, but at the same time, questions will have to be answered about its early A-League season form heading into next weekend’s match with Wellington Phoenix.
Nonetheless, Victory will return to AAMI Park on Nov. 7, this time as the hosts, for the FFA Cup Final against Perth Glory and a chance for revenge for last year’s exit. Here are six things we learned, followed by player ratings, for the FFA Cup semifinal between Hume City and Melbourne Victory.
1. Melbourne force the question early on Hume
Early on in the first half, Melbourne Victory were looking to establish the tempo with pinpoint passing and ball movement amidst a sparse crowd at AAMI Park. The objective for Hume City in the first half was to absorb the blow then strike on the counter as a result of overpressure. New acquisition, defender Giancarlo Gallifuoco made his club debut in this game for Melbourne.
A would-be penalty in the sixth minute for a handball on Jason Geria was not called by referee Ben Williams. In the seventh minute, Hume had their first chance on goal turn into their first corner of the game for Jai Ingham, a former Brisbane Roar bookend, now with Anadolu. Oliver Bozanic, another new signing for Melbourne, had a free kick sail over the crossbar in the 10th minute.
Besart Berisha almost got on the receiving end of a pass from Connor Pain in the 13th minute but the communication wasn’t there as Hume’s local Turkish house drummers with midweek snake charmer played in the background. Chris Oldfield, a former Liverpool star and just 24 years old, was forced to make a point-blank save on Jesse Makarounas in the 15th minute of play. But the warning signs were there, and the designated hosts were on notice.
2. Matt Hennessey impresses in first half
A massive ball possession battle ensued after the first 15 minutes, which impressed Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou, who was scouting the younger players for possible national team potential. A dangerous free kick in the 23rd minute for Makarounas was saved by Oldfield. Another shot in the 24th was saved by the Hume netminder as the residential seagulls got a birds-eye view of the #MagicOfTheCup.
The Victory were consolidating possession in the first half, but with Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Gui Finkler on the bench to start, Hume was holding sway defensively. Hume’s 18-year phenom Matt Hennessey, who was sitting an English exam early in the morning and who comes from a family of great Welsh footballers, had a similarly great header attempt sail wide left in the 28th minute. Pain, who started the match, was held on notice by Hennessey in the 30th minute.
3. Victory get to work, but late
Makarounas had another set piece in the 31st minute, but he is no Gui Finkler, as the ensuing clearance off the set piece showed. Hume captain Nick Hegarty had a chance in the 33rd minute sail wide right. After some feisty altercations in the 34th minute, a header from Berisha in the 35th off a set piece went over the bar.
More miscommunications continued when a cross from Geria missed Pain in the 36th minute. In the 40th minute, Bradley Walker of Hume was given yellow for a foul on Berisha in the box. Berisha’s conversion in the 41st minute gave Melbourne a 1-0 lead, sending Oldfield in the wrong direction.
The Albanian international has now scored in every round of the 2015 FFA Cup that the Victory have participated in. But with Melbourne Victory heading into the change rooms with a precarious 1-0 lead, Kevin Muscat would have to call in the cavalry to really give Hume a test.
4. Bad deliveries and good saves from Hume City
Early on in the second half, Victory’s Matthieu Delpierre nearly became his own enemy, but a would-be own goal hit the side netting in the 48th minute. The ensuing corner was wasted though, and the danger in turn averted. Gallifuoco was given a caution for obstruction in the 50th minute of play. The Hegarty free kick from distance missed wide right.
The cards continued to come from Williams, with Bozanic being the guilty party in the 51st minute with a yellow. Again, Hegarty’s delivery technique suffered, and the ball possession battle continued. Ingham’s next corner in the 55th minute wasn’t any better, and common sense would suggest that these poor deliveries from Hume City would be costly later on in the second half.
Oldfield made another pair of clutch saves in the 58th minute. The English international was single-handedly keeping Hume City in the contest. Through 58 minutes, Oldfield made six saves. The ensuing Makarounas corner was also cleared. Pain’s cross in the 59th minute had Oldfield get his hand to it, too.
5. Set piece mishaps for Melbourne Victory
Daniel Clark came off for Soheil Azagane for Hume in the 60th minute of play. Theo Markelis, a former Victory player, had a cheeky feed to Hegarty in the 62nd minute but the strike was blocked. In the 66th minute, Makarounas’s corner was cleared by Hegarty.
Gallifuoco tried to finish off Melbourne’s next corner but failed. On the transition, the aformentioned Azagane had a shot saved point-blank by Victory netminder Danny Vukovic, his first significant piece of work in this contest. The corners continued to come for Victory, and Hume responded by clearing their next one in the 70th minute.
Rashid Mahazi came in for Delpierre, who would be needed for the match against Wellington Phoenix. Yet another corner came in the 71st minute, and the rebound was saved by Oldfield. Markelis’s first shot on goal missed wide left. With the game close as it was, Fahid Ben Khalfallah came in for Pain in the 74th minute of play.
6. Hume City run out of gas late
Hume’s Joey Franjic, brother of Socceroo Ivan Franjic, earned a caution in the 76th minute. Ben Khalfallah’s pass to Berisha was wasted in the 77th minute as he continued his bid for a brace. In the 81st minute, it was Markelis’s turn to do free kick honors. The end result: only Vukovic’s third save of the match, but it yielded a corner was initially cleared. A cross attempt for Ben Khalfallah was wasted by Berisha in the 84th minute.
The price Hume was playing for not playing competitive football in weeks was showing with cramps left and right. And yet, the club also known as Anadoluspor were only trailing 1-0 86 minutes in with stoppage time to go. There was still time for Hume City to put in a miraculous turnaround in a very short amount of time. The then-unheralded AAMI Park turf monster was apparently a Hume supporter itself, claiming Fahid Ben Khalfallah’s footing. In the 89th minute, Barbarouses finally got the second goal for Melbourne after some bold defending in the second half from Oldfield.
With the score 2-0 Melbourne, the priority now for the designated visitors was to prevent a sudden stoppage time surge from Hume. Yusef Mohammad and Kristian Trajceski came in late for Hume in relief. Barbarouses almost earned an assist in the third minute of stoppage but his cross to Berisha missed everything. Geria finally scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time to wrap it all up and give Melbourne a 3-0 shutout win. It was Geria’s first-ever goal as a member of the Victory first team.
Hume City FC Player Ratings
Chris Oldfield 8, Matt Hennessey 7, Ivan Pavlak 6, Shane Rexhepi 5, Bradley Walker 5.5, Joey Franjic 5.5, Marcus Schroen 5, Nick Hegarty 6, Theo Markelis 6, Jai Ingham 6, Daniel Clark 5, Yusef Mohammad NR, Kristian Trajceski NR, Soheil Azagane 5
Melbourne Victory Player Ratings
Danny Vukovic 6, Jason Geria 7, Matthieu Delpierre 5, Giancarlo Gallifuoco 6.5, Scott Galloway 5, Oliver Bozanic 6.5, Jess Makarounas 6, Leigh Broxham 6, Kosta Barbarousas 7, Connor Pain 6, Besart Berisha 7, Rashid Mahazi 4, Fahid Ben Khalfallah 5