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Melbourne Victory beat Macarthur to secure a 4-1 win that keeps them alive in the hunt for top spot in the A-League Men.
After Craig Noone’s 56th-minute penalty halved a Ben Folami and Jake Brimmer deficit, the hosts threw it all away in a frantic search for an equaliser.
A cheeky heel kick from Roderick Miranda in the 81st minute and Josh Brillante’s 94th-minute strike dashed those hopes, however.
Now unbeaten in their last 12 league games, a club record, the result moved Victory three points behind second-placed Western United, the two having played 23 games.
They are also just five behind top table Melbourne City, with one game less.
“With every result we are moving forward with confidence,” Victory coach Tony Popovic said.
“We’re 12 unbeaten, it’s another fantastic away win against a side that obviously have a lot to fight for.
“We should have scored more goals in the first half.
“So that’s an area where we need to improve when we’re at the top, but I think overall we deserve the three points.”
The Bulls’ chances in the Finals, however, were hit hard.
Despite trailing seventh-placed Sydney FC by one point, the loss left Ante Milicic’s side just two points clear of eighth-placed Central Coast.
And unlike Sydney FC, who like Macarthur have played 24 games, the Mariners have two fewer games.
“I can’t look any further than Newcastle Jets next week,” Milicic said.
“We had to pick something up against Western United and Melbourne Victory. Unfortunately, we didn’t.
“Now we have to depend on others, which is not an ideal scenario.
“All we can do is recover well, refocus, see how the boys recover and go again next Sunday.”
Their margin halved by Noone three minutes after Brimmer’s 53rd-minute penalty, Victory was forced to sweat in the 64th as VAR ruled Aleksandar Jovanovic’s equalizer offside.
Yet despite subsequent efforts by the Bulls, Miranda’s audacious goal from a Brimmer corner and Brillante’s deflected strike sealed the result.
Victory will now head straight to Queensland to face Brisbane Roar on Monday afternoon, with defender Jason Davidson having a chance to return from illness.
“It’s a very short turnaround,” Popovic said.
“I don’t quite understand how it is at 2 a.m. on Monday, but that’s another challenge.”