A-League: Western United beat Melbourne Victory

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Melbourne Victory coach Tony Popovic likened the atmosphere during his side’s 1-0 loss to Western United at AAMI Park to that of a match played when Covid-19 restrictions prevented fans attending.

No Victory fans or members were allowed in the ground on Monday night as part of the club’s sanctions for the pitch invasion at the same venue on December 17.

With United having only a small supporter base, the official crowd figure was only 2867, and that figure seemed slightly inflated when considering the number of empty seats in the stadium.

“It’s different,” Popovic said.

“The players were out there. I wasn’t, but it felt like some of those games that you played with the Covid restrictions.

“It is what it is for us at the moment, and we can’t use that as an excuse for what happened out there.

“We’ve got to look to be better.”

Popovic said the Victory would “deal with” any further sanctions Football Australia potentially slapped on them as investigations continue into the disgraceful Melbourne derby incident.

“We’ll deal with whatever comes up, I’d like to think that what we’re seeing so far is pretty heavy sanctions as it is, (but) if they think we need more, then we’ll have to deal with it,” he said.

Popovic was left to lament his side’s failure to make the most of its one-man advantage following the first-half dismissal of Western United defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley.

“We didn’t do enough to break down 10 men, They set very deep and defended well. It’s what they do,” the Victory coach said.

However, he was adamant his side should have been awarded a free-kick for a “clear offside” offence in the build-up to the corner that United scored from via a Josh Risdon header.

“It’s three metres offside before the corner. It’s not close. It’s so far offside that I’m not really sure what we have to do now,” Popovic said.

“When a player runs with the ball into the box do we just get out of the way and say ‘let’s take a chance’?

“If he shoots and scores, the VAR will intervene. He’s running towards goal. That’s a goal-scoring opportunity. The VAR must intervene.

“They can’t say it’s not a goal-scoring opportunity. It is because he’s running towards goal.

“Now they’ll tell us different, and I’m sure the APL (Australian Professional Leagues) will come out and put another video and try to tell me how I’m wrong again … but that’s a clear offside and a poor decision, very poor.”

Originally published as Absence of Melbourne Victory supporters ensures small crowd at AAMI Park

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