2018/19 Australian A League, Regular Season
  • Keisuke Honda (30')
  • James Troisi (35')
  • Corey Brown (45'+2')
  • Josh Hope (90'+4')
  • Mario Shabow (62')

Melbourne Victory thrash Central Coast Mariners to climb up to second

Melbourne Victory delivered a stunning statement of A-League intent, thrashing Central Coast Mariners 4-1 at AAMI Park.

The champions were ruthless from the kickoff on Sunday night, with Keisuke Honda, James Troisi and Corey Brown scoring in a vintage first-half display.

Mario Shabow's first professional goal gave the Mariners something on an otherwise sorry night, before Josh Hope rounded out the scoring.

Mike Mulvey's team were reduced to an amateur outfit in front of 16,508 fans, who also cheered Ola Toivonen's debut from the bench. The Swedish marquee emerged with the game already won, but played in Hope in second-half stoppage time to leave a late mark.

"The first half today was tremendous," coach Kevin Muscat said. "It was exciting. It was disciplined. It was controlled. It was measured. It had a lot of desire about it."

Honda's opener came as a result of Victory's relentless press. The Japanese star was on hand to hassle Antony Golec out of possession, running away to score on the half-hour mark.

Five minutes later, Troisi scored with a dinked finish after being played in by Terry Antonis.

Even Leigh Broxham had chances to score in Victory's rampant opening half which ended when Brown volleyed home a loose ball in the box.

Jacob Melling and Golec had woeful nights, compounded by a late clash between the pair that appeared to injure the centre-back.

Even Central Coast's consolation appeared fortunate, with Shabow guiding home the ball from close range with his first touch.

Georg Niedermeier might have joined Brown in scoring his first Victory goal, only for the German to volley Honda's flicked free kick onto the post.

Instead, it was Victory's young Tasmanian midfielder who grabbed his first A-League strike from Toivonen's centre just before full-time.

Victory's second-straight win lifts them to fourth on the table, while Central Coast stay bottom, looking every inch the wooden spooners in waiting.

Mulvey rued his side's defensive mistakes.

"You can't give a team like Victory opportunities to score because they're good enough to score goals themselves," he said. "[Our] soft underbelly reared its ugly head once again."