Kevin Muscat delighted as Melbourne Victory moves into fourth place
A buoyant Kevin Muscat launched a strong defence of his Melbourne Victory side after the A-League heavyweights snapped a month-long wait for three points.
Pushing aside fatigue, Victory overwhelmed Adelaide United 3-0 at AAMI Park on Saturday night to jump ahead of the Reds on the table.
The win should secure finals football for Victory, who are seven points ahead of seventh-placed Brisbane Roar with six matches left.
And it means they can move to within a point of Melbourne City by defeating them in Friday's derby, a match Muscat described as huge for his club.
"We were in control," Muscat said, of the win against the Reds.
"When we had the ball and when we didn't have the ball.
"We started very well and caused them a hell of a lot of issues in the first half and we were rewarded for that in terms of the amount of opportunities and ultimately the goals."
The outlook for Victory is a far cry to when the match started.
They were on a three-game losing streak in the league and weren't expected to beat Adelaide off the back of their midweek Champions League trip to China, where they lost 4-1 to Shanghai SIPG.
Muscat delighted in flipping convention on its head with the result.
"Why can't we use it to our advantage?" he said.
"I thought that, tonight, held us in good stead.
"There was stuff in Shanghai that was outstanding and we produced that tonight and gave a good team a bit of a run around.
"All the commentary leading up to tonight was what a good season Adelaide United are having and how well they're travelling and what a good team they are.
"That they never give up. Well we jumped them tonight into fourth place."
Muscat praised the contribution of Matias Sanchez and Terry Antonis, who partnered in central midfield in the absence of captain Carl Valeri.
Leroy George was a clear man-of-the-match, with a stunning free kick and a hand in Victory's other two goals.
The Dutchman is yet to sign on for another season, with Muscat coy on whether he'd be retained.
"All the discussions will remain private," he said.