Melbourne Victory finished 2012 on a winning note after surviving a comeback from the Newcastle Jets to win 3-2 on Friday.
It was Marco Rojas who was the match-winner, with the New Zealand international claiming a superb double either side of an Archie Thompson goal.
Ruben Zadkovich and Emile Heskey struck for the brave Jets, but they were to go home empty handed.
Forced defensive changes for both sides hinted at an open match at AAMI Park, and it did not disappoint.
As expected, Victory coach Ange Postecoglou opted for Leigh Broxham – a defensive midfielder by trade, measuring just 169cm – in the centre of defence alongside teenager Nick Ansell.
Jonathan Bru and Matthew Foschini also came in for the hosts, while the Jets had their own defensive change in the form of Josh Mitchell, who came in for the rested Scott Neville.
The opener arrived when Rojas collected the ball on the left, evaded a Galloway challenge and unleashed a powerful, floating shot that evaded the outstretched Birighitti for the opener on 33 minutes. It was something special from a player who had hinted at it much of the match.
Having headed just wide on 44 minutes, Thompson had to wait just one minute for his goal, as Billy Celeski and Rojas combined for the Australia international to stroke home under little pressure and make it 2-0.
The Jets had not played poorly and got both reward and hope on 64 minutes, as Zadkovich drove a skidding ball inside Coe’s right-hand post from well outside the area.
And a share of the points was within their grasp when, after Victory failed to clear their lines on 73 minutes, Heskey poked home to make it 2-2.
It was not to be, however. And it was Rojas again who struck, seizing on a half-chance after both Marcos Flores and Guilherme Finkler worked it forward to lash a superb volley home.
It was nearly 4-2 when substitute Andrew Nabbout sent a shot careening just over Mark Birighitti’s crossbar, and Thompson then forced a neat save from the Jets goalkeeper in the 85th minute.
Substitute Adam Taggart drew a reflex save from Nathan Coe three minutes later as Newcastle again dreamed of leaving Melbourne with something.
But it was not to be, as Victory moved within two points of second-placed Adelaide United, while the Jets finish the calendar year on seventh.
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