Muscat hails Finkler 'brilliance'

Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat praised Gui Finkler after the Brazilian's stunning double helped see off a stubborn Central Coast Mariners outfit 2-1 on Friday.

Victory - missing five players on national duty - fell behind in the 32nd minute when Isaka Cernak nodded in from close range at AAMI Park.

Finkler ensured Victory would claim another crucial three points in their bid for the Premier's Plate, though, first levelling five minutes before half-time when he curled home from the edge of the penalty area.

And the Brazilian bagged a 77th-minute winner with another excellent curling finish to bring Victory within one point of A-League leaders Wellington Phoenix.

"There were two main moments tonight. Those moments fell to Gui," Muscat told reporters at his post-match media conference.

"Fortunately, his quality shone through and he scored two excellent goals.

"There's no doubt in that front third, that we have got match winners. In previous weeks, it's been Archie [Thompson], Fahid [Ben Khalfallah], Bes [Berisha], Kosta [Barbarouses]. 

"When [sides] try to stop one or two of them, it frees up some space. He [Finkler] didn't let us down. Two moments of composure, two moments of brilliance and it wins us a game."

Muscat acknowledged his side were off the pace, particularly in the first half, and was adamant they would improve - starting with a huge clash against the Phoenix next Sunday.

"It took us an eternity to get settled. We created a numerical advantage in the middle of the park almost every time we had the ball yet we weren't composed enough to retain possession," he added.

"It became a game of both teams giving the ball away. It must not have been pretty to watch. In the second half, we moved the ball far better. They worked very hard to make it difficult for us.

"How long can that [winning without playing well] last for? That can last a week, two weeks, it doesn't win you many. To win consistently, you need to perform well. We can perform better than we did tonight and we will do.

"It's going to be a big game [at Wellington] regardless of what happens over the weekend. The group will be hurting from that [performance], although we've won.

"The group will be determined to improve their performance. We scored two magical goals tonight with maybe an under-par performance."

Muscat also said that all five of Victory's missing internationals would be available for selection in Wellington, while Kosta Barbarouses - who has been "pushed over the last couple of days" - had trained well as he bids to recover from a hamstring injury.