A second half strike from Natasha Dowie has given Melbourne Victory a 2-1 win over Canberra United at Epping Stadium.
Michelle Heyman cancelled out Kristen McNabb’s early goal for Victory to see the sides locked level at the break, but Dowie’s goal 14 minutes into the second half proved to be the difference.
United began the first half with good pressure, looking to probe in behind the Victory defence. However, after a cross was tipped over by Haley Kopmeyer on a counter-attack from the hosts, Victory struck.
Angela Beard’s looping corner found McNabb leaping highest in the box, and she headed truly across Kopmeyer and into the far corner.
United looked to respond straight away, and Kendall Fletcher began to tick things over as she set Ashleigh Sykes free down the right on a number of occasions.
Victory held strong though, and some strong saves from Casey Dumont as well as a great goal-line clearance from Beard meant United were frustrated in their efforts.
But in the 25th minute, Heyman chased down an errant back pass and smothered Dumont’s attempted clearance with the ball falling loose. Heyman made no mistake as she rolled the loose ball into the net to deservedly restore parity for the visitors.
With scores level at the break the second half began much more quietly than the first, and Victory looked to use their weight of possession as they searched for openings in the visitor’s backline.
Victory suddenly had an opening after the hour mark as Dumont’s long ball found Dowie racing through, and although Kopmeyer got a touch as the striker looked to round her, Dowie finished calmly from the angle to give Victory the lead back.
Heyman had a great chance to pull United level with less than 15 minutes to go as she pounced on another sloppy back pass, but appeared to get the ball caught in her feet as she went past Dumont and the Victory custodian was able to claim the ball.
The hosts sat deep as the game wore on and United struggled to break them down, eventually seeing off the defending Premiers final attacks to claim a 2-1 victory.
Victory will face Melbourne City in a Melbourne derby next weekend, while Canberra United have the bye before facing Sydney FC at McKellar Park in Round 3.