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Western United rescues late point against Melbourne Victory

Melbourne Victory’s  Sam Khelifi tussles with Western United’s Ben Garuccio on Thursday night.

Melbourne Victory’s Sam Khelifi tussles with Western United’s Ben Garuccio on Thursday night. Photo: Getty

Western United and Melbourne Victory have shared the points after a 2-2 draw at AAMI Park, a game in which both sides surrendered second-half leads.

After seizing the initiative just before half-time through Daniel Penha, only to be pegged back by Ben Folami and Chris Ikonomidis, United appeared set for a dispiriting defeat headed into the final minutes of Thursday’s match.

However, Penha came up clutch for his side again when he found Ben Garuccio in space to fire home in the 90th minute and level things up.

United should have had a 2-0 lead in the 56th minute after Garuccio was adjudged to have been dragged down by Salim Khelifi, only for Michael Ruhs to put his penalty far too close to Paul Izzo.

And though able to regather and avoid a second straight come-from-behind defeat against Victory, United missed the chance to move off the foot of the A-League Men’s table with what would have been its third straight win.

Instead, United sits level on points with Adelaide United but remains last thanks to an inferior goal difference.

Victory missed the chance to close within a game of league-leading Central Coast and Wellington, with just four fixtures remaining on the regular-season slate for Tony Popovic’s side.

With first-half chances at a premium, Matthew Grimaldi played Garuccio into space and cut the ball back for Penha’s near-post run to give United a deserved lead just before half-time.

Victory failed to register a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes and should have been put to bed by the penalty, but it took advantage of its lifelines to take the lead through second-half substitutes Folami and Ikonomidis.

But Penha played Garuccio into space late to ensure that United didn’t leave empty handed and stayed unbeaten in four matches.

-AAP

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