Fernando Romero should have been smiling at AAMI Park on Sunday after scoring his first A-League goal in Melbourne Victory’s 2-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners.
However, the Paraguayan striker left the field in tears in the 66th minute after being sent off for a foul on Mariners midfielder Max Balard.
And while his red card didn’t cost the last-placed Victory a much-needed win, the 22-year-old marksman was a distraught figure in the dressing-room.
Initially shown a yellow card for his foul on Balard, Romero was left shattered after referee Jonathan Barreiro deemed the foul was worthy of instant dismissal after reviewing footage of the incident on the advice of the VAR
While Romero made contact with the ball first, his studs then collected the calf of Balard as he followed through.
Romero was consoled by the Mariners’ Brazilian pair Marco Tulio and Moresche as he left the field.
It wasn’t the only flashpoint of the second half, with Barreiro overturning his decision to award the Mariners a penalty in the 80th minute.
Tulio seemed to be brought down from behind by Victory defenders Damien Da Silva and Roderick Miranda.
However, after pointing to the spot, Barreiro was again advised by the VAR to review the footage.
The Mariners were then left astounded – and perhaps rightly so – when Barreiro changed his mind despite there being more than enough evidence to suggest a clear and obvious error had not been made in his original decision to point to the spot for a penalty.
Tulio was subsequently booked for dissent as the Mariners again came up short in Victoria, where they haven’t won since 2014.
A piece of brilliance from Bruno Fornaroli gave the Victory the lead in the 16th minute.
Seeing goalkeeper Danny Vukovic off his line, the veteran marksman lobbed the Mariners gloveman with a clever strike from just outside the Central Coast penalty to score his sixth goal of the season.
The Mariners had a chance to equalise in the 34th minute but Sam Silvera failed to hit the target after being set up by Christian Theoharous.
Provider Theoharous then had his own opportunity to level scores in first-half stoppage time, but his shot skimmed the top of the crossbar.
The Mariners continued to spurn chances, with substitute Moresche blowing a golden opportunity early in the second half when he failed to direct a header on target from close range.
Romero then doubled the Victory’s lead in the 56th minute when he was first to a near post cross from teammate Chris Ikonomidis.
Despite Romero’s dismissal 10 minute later, the Victory were able to hold on with 10 men to win for just the sixth time this season.
“It was a really mature performance,” Ikonomidis told Network 10.
“We really kept our heads strong there and held out for a good win.”
Story Credit: news.com.au