2018/19 Australian A League, Regular Season
  • Keisuke Honda (28')
  • Ritchie de Laet (40')
  • Riley McGree (70')

Melbourne City spoil Keisuke Honda's Victory debut with derby win

Keisuke Honda walks off after losing Melbourne derby on his A-League debut Getty

Melbourne City have trumped Keisuke Honda and Melbourne Victory in their A-League derby duel, coming from behind with the help of VAR to claim a round-one classic.

Ritchie de Laet scored an equaliser after Honda's opener and Riley McGree struck a late winner to settle an enthralling contest on Saturday night at Marvel Stadium.

The match was going to Victory's script when their marquee star, Honda, headed home Storm Roux's centre just after half-an-hour.

But Kurt Ams' contentious penalty decision just before halftime changed the contest, laying the platform for City's tremendous comeback.

Bruno Fornaroli went down under a feather-light touch in between Raul Baena and Corey Brown, to originally earn a dubious free kick.

The decision was amplified when Ams was summoned to the touch-line by the video assistants which confirmed the incident as inside he box, turning a line-ball free kick into a City lifeline from the spot.

Victory coach Kevin Muscat raged at the decision but bit his tongue after the match.

"There's no point me sharing my opinion and getting into trouble ... I'll just go as far as saying it's not a foul," he said.

Fox Sports commentator Mark Bosnich called the decision an "absolute disgrace" and justice was almost served when Lawrence Thomas saved Florin Berenguer's spot kick.

Instead, City's own marquee man de Laet was first to the rebound to volley home an equaliser.

Ams' contentious call drew fury from the stands and on the pitch.

Fornaroli was later crunched in a tackle by Kenjok Athiu and Georg Neidermeier, sparking a brawl, while the halftime whistle brought a predictable chorus of boos.

After the break, James Troisi hit the post and Athiu sent a close-range volley into the stands as Victory chased the lead once more.

Just as Victory enjoyed their best spell of the match, City struck a winner. Luke Brattan's sumptuous through-ball allowed McGree to fire home on 70 minutes.

Victory rained fire on Eugene Galekovic's goal in a hope of an equaliser, coming closest when Troisi's injury-time effort was saved by the keeper.

City's impressive rearguard effort stymied the champions, re-claiming bragging rights in front of a crowd of 40,540.

Coach Warren Joyce hailed his squad's effort as superb, given they were missing senior players and seven travelling underage internationals.

"I thought we showed a tremendous amount of resilience ... they've dug deep," he said.

The result gave both derby combatants a reversal of fortune from last year's finals series.

City, knocked out by McGree's wonder goal in the semi-finals when he wore Newcastle colours, could thank the 19-year-old for his winner on debut.

And Victory, who could thank an incredibly timed VAR failure for the only goal of their grand final win, could look back on another video review as a turning point.

"That first 40 minutes before the incident, I thought were outstanding," Muscat said. "Total dominance, total control and playing some really attacking and exciting stuff.

"To concede the way we did, the time we did, if anything gave them some momentum."