There’s a perfect storm brewing in the world of professional sport and the A-League has been one of the first competitions in Australia to feel the full effect.
Swedish striker Ola Toivonen has scored his 10th goal of the A-League season as Melbourne Victory defeated Sydney FC 2-1 in the Big Blue.
Kevin Muscat has hailed Ola Toivonen’s impact at Melbourne Victory after the Swedish star’s world-class strike helped secure a 2-1 win over Sydney FC in an enthralling Big Blue.
Victory went ahead 2-0 before seeing off a late surge by the Sky Blues to leapfrog Steve Corica’s men into second spot on the A-League ladder in an enthralling encounter on Saturday night in front of 21,085 fans at AAMI Park.
It’s a scenario that appeared unlikely when Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda went down with a significant hamstring injury in December.
But with his 10th goal in 13 appearances, Toivonen has ensured Victory have thrived rather than bided their time until their marquee goal-scorer returns.
“If we’re speaking about Ola and his contribution … it’s been outstanding,” Muscat told reporters after the match.
“And he’s coming in for some real (physical) treatment as well.
“His quality really stood out again tonight.
“If (Lionel) Messi scores a free kick like that this weekend the world would be raving about it.”
Victory dominated possession in the opening half hour, with crisp passing and high-tempo play and thoroughly deserved to go ahead in the 20th minute.
Toivonen stepped up to take a free kick after James Troisi was felled just outside the penalty area.
The former Swedish international sent a beautifully crafted, curling strike over the wall and into the top left corner off the post, giving Andy Redmayne no chance.
Toivonen also had a hand in Victory’s second goal with a well-timed ball releasing Spanish midfielder Raul Baena.
Troisi finished the scything move, lashing home Baena’s cut-back close to the penalty spot in the 54th minute.
“I’ll watch a lot of football this weekend, the majority of it international,” Muscat continued.
“And I don’t think I’ll see a bit of brilliance like that for (Toivonen) to bring that ball down like he did.”
The Sky Blues will still consider themselves unlucky not to depart Melbourne with a point after a strong finish that included a Milos Ninkovic goal in the 63rd minute.
Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas also made a brilliant save to deny Adam Le Fondre with just over 10 minutes left.
“I think we deserved to win it actually,” Corica said.
“I thought we had the best chances of the second half.”