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Jan 23, 2009

Big-match Archie may have struck again

Not for the first time in Melbourne Victory's history, Archie Thompson's knack for scoring big-match goals may win the club an A-League trophy.

Thompson pinched a priceless 90th-minute goal to seal Melbourne's 2-0 win over Wellington Phoenix at Telstra Dome on Friday night, helping his side put one hand on the league trophy.

Melbourne now sit top of the A-League and will secure the minor premiership unless Adelaide United win their match against Central Coast Mariners on Sunday by two goals or more.

Thompson's goal on Friday night was the buffer his side needed, meaning Adelaide will have to not just win, but do it convincingly to grab back the minor premiership.

It brought back echoes of the Socceroo striker's remarkable five-goal haul in the grand final two seasons ago to smash Adelaide United and virtually single-handedly win his club silverware.

Victory skipper Kevin Muscat was happy to turn the blowtorch on the Reds ahead of their match, saying his side's greatest edge over their rivals was firepower like Thompson provides.

"We find ourselves comfortable, regardless of the result," Muscat said.

"We've put the pressure on Adelaide. I don't think they've scored too many away goals this season.

"We know if we can hold on long enough, we've got the firepower.

"If we can hold teams out, we'll have a period of time where we can apply pressure.

"Most times, we'll produce a goal. That's the threat we've got that every other team would like."

Muscat was also a hero - scoring Melbourne's other goal with a first-half penalty then marshalling a defence which refused to buckle under heavy Phoenix pressure.

Twice in the second half he made gutsy and timely challenges to break-up promising Phoenix attacks in dangerous positions.

Wellington rarely got a sniff of goal despite having the lion's share second half possession and some promising moments in the opening half-hour.

The team that finishes top of the table also gets to decide the order of matches for the two-legged major semi-final, with Melbourne certain to plump for the second leg at home if they secure the minor premiership.

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