Mombaerts happy, Kurz seeks improvement as City, Victory learn lessons

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't that exciting. And, as seems to be the norm nowadays, VAR was the main talking point in a scoreless Melbourne derby that allowed both Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City to start the new season with points in the bag.

The video assistant referee, and how long Victory's German centre back Tim Hoogland will be out for after he was forced to miss the game with injury, were the main points of interest from a game in which both sides' lack of penetration was in evidence as neither goalkeeper was really tested.

In the end, City looked the better structured and organised team, Victory had the only goal of the game chalked off, and honours ended even in a scoreless draw.

City will look to improve when Socceroos frontman Jamie Maclaren gets back from World Cup qualifying duty. They could have done with his cutting edge, especially with the chance that fell early in the game to Lachlan Wales.

Victory have to continue for some time yet without first choice centre-half Hoogland. The German went down with a groin injury in the last training session on Friday and forced new coach Marco Kurz into a defensive reshuffle, with Thomas Deng playing in the middle alongside James Donachie and Storm Roux at right back.

Anyone who turned up at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night expecting fireworks left disappointed: Elvis Kamsoba's exuberant backflipping celebrations before his first ever goal in the A-League was chalked off – VAR showed he was offside – was the most memorable moment.

This was a weekend when the electronic officials dominated, playing a major role in the earlier games in Sydney and Western Sydney.

It is likely to continue this way, though there has been plenty of angst from fans due to the fact that the process slows the game down, destroying the spontaneity of the game and the intensity of the goal-scoring experience.

There is also a feeling that in tight offside calls the benefit of the doubt is not given to the attacking team, and controversial calls have drawn criticism in the past.

Kamsoba's was, in relative terms, a much more clear-cut decision than most. Had his goal stood it would have been an unjust result – as both coaches admitted afterwards.

"I don't think our performance was better than City's, that means a draw was a fair result," Kurz said after the game.

"We had a couple of good moments, but our crossing or final passing was not clear enough.

Elvis Kamsoba's goal was disallowed by VAR for offside.

"After the offside goal it was an open game, but the structure from City was much better."

Kurz again stressed a point he had made in the lead-up to this game in Friday's pre-match press conference. City's run to the FFA Cup meant they had played many more serious games than Victory, who have had to content themselves with friendlies. City were sharper and more cohesive than Kurz's team.

"Today you saw that City was the team that had played more games together. We need time for improvement, I am still confident that I believe in the boys," Kurz said.

"The result is not bad against a strong side from City."

Hoogland is not Kurz's only injury problem ahead of Friday night's clash with the Wanderers. Robbie Kruse, the Socceroos forward, is also out with hamstring problems.

City's new boss Erick Mombaert conceded that he was "a little disappointed" after failing to gain the three points.

"In the first half we had some good opportunities and we conceded no opportunities. We had some good chances and we scored no goals.

"But I am also happy about the team. It was a good start, especially in the build up ... and also defensively we were very strong, we conceded few chances, for me it was a good performance.

"They struggled to control our players in the middle."

He shrugged his shoulders theatrically when asked how much his team missed Maclaren.

"Jamie is our best striker, so maybe we have some good chances tonight we can score one. But I have to congratulate our young players [who came into the side] and it's not easy to replace Jamie.

"Lachlan is one of the fastest players we have and he can work defensively."

Mombaerts was also full of praise for centre back Harrison Delbridge, who largely shackled Victory skipper Ola Toivonen.

"I am not surprised. He has improved a lot, today he was fantastic defensively, he is very strong and very fast."


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