Alex Chidiac’s brilliant “Olimpico” goal headlined Melbourne Victory’s 3-0 defeat of a 10-woman Perth Glory but Melina Ayres’ brace has coach Jeff Hopkins excited for the rest of the A-League Women season.
Striker Ayres’ goal in the 25th minute handed the reigning champions the advantage before Glory’s Sarah Cain was sent off in the 56th at Macedonia Park.
Ayres smashed home her second goal, and third in two games, two minutes later, before Chidiac’s wonderful strike directly from a corner kick in the 75th minute wrapped up Victory’s second win on the bounce.
Chidiac, young midfielder Alana Murphy and Beattie Goad were brilliant but after a limited pre-season, Ayres’ well-taken pair of finishes underlined her return to form.
“You can see that she’s back to the form she was in the year before last and the last three games of last year when she came back from injury,” Hopkins said.
“I’m really pleased for her, she was excellent. Young Alana Murphy was excellent.
“We shut up shop really well in the second half and in general it was a step forward from last week (a 1-0 win over Wellington).”
Victory have bumped up to fifth on the table while Perth, winless after four games, are ninth.
Perth had a couple of early chances with Victory’s defence shaky on the ball.
But Victory snatched the lead when Claudia Bunge’s long ball fell into the path of Goad, who cut wide then whipped in a lovely cross for Ayres.
The striker took a touch, turned on the ball and coolly ripped it into the bottom corner.
Perth attacker Rylee Baisden dragged just wide in the 40th minute, while five minutes into the second half Casey Dumont denied Lowry’s header.
The Glory unnecessarily went a player down when Cain, earlier booked for a first-half shirt tug, fouled Lia Privitelli and received her second yellow.
Victory seized control and capitalised almost immediately.
Goad floated in a corner and it bobbled around in the area before Ayres chested down the ball and lashed home.
Perth kept attacking but Chidiac’s wonderful left-footed corner goal 15 minutes from full-time sent Victory into raptures.
“I’m proud of the way that we went after the reigning champs,” Glory coach Alex Epakis told reporters.
“We didn’t want them to come here and have an easy game. We wanted to make sure that we absolutely gave it as much as we could to get a result.
“(The red card) was obviously disappointing and it came probably at the worst possible time.
“But where I become really proud is once we went down, we didn’t drop tools. We kept going for them, we showed a level of togetherness.”