Muscat: Penalty was 'non-existent'

Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat admitted he was left frustrated after his side conceded a second half penalty in their thrilling 3-3 draw with Sydney FC on Saturday night.

With the visitors leading 2-1 with less than 20 minutes, Strebre Delovski adjudged Victory midfielder Gui Finkler had brought down Sebastian Ryall despite appearing to be little contact.

“The penalty wasn’t questionable, it was just no-existent. It was so far from being a penalty,” an irate but measured Muscat said afterwards.

“There’s a group of players in there that are accountable for their actions because I make them.

“It just seems at the moment not everyone is accountable for their actions.

“What we will say tomorrow is what a great advert (that game) was for the A-League but I totally disagree.

“If we start saying that’s an advert for the A-League we’re going down the wrong path.

“It seems at the moment there’s two sets of teams that are not deciding the outcome of the game.

“At that point of the game I thought we were very comfortable … and then the momentum was turned not by the opposition but by the referee.”

Asked what the answer was to improving the standard of officiating, Muscat said: “It’s not my responsibility because I’m not employed to find the answer.

“I don’t give it too much thought…it’s not my job.

“It’s happened a couple of times as well. Sometimes you say ‘it was a difficult one’ but it was just non-existent.

“Is anyone accountable because I know I’m accountable for my livelihood?

“There’s a group of players that have worked hard since pre-season and for the result to be taken out of their control is disappointing.

“Unfortunately we leave here with a point when we deserved all three because some of the football we played was a great advert for the A-League.

“Our first couple of goals were outstanding and you would go a long way to see better orchestrated goals and finishes.”

Shane Smeltz converted from the penalty spot to draw Sydney level before Victory got their noses back in front soon after through Nick Ansell.

Muscat admitted his side should have held on from that point, only to be pegged back again through a superb header by substitute Smeltz.

Contentious penalty aside, it was a gripping encounter between the two fierce rivals who have now played out three entertaining draws this season.

Both sides played some superb football, with Victory scoring two sublime goals in the first half through Kosta Barbarouses and Finkler.

While most experts view Victory as the team to beat for the title, Muscat disagrees and believes his side have plenty of improvement left in them.

“I think Sydney have got the best team in the league with their recruits,” the Victory boss said.

“But we’ve certainly got improvement in us. That’s the make-up and the DNA that the squad have got that we want to go on and be the best that we can.

“There’s a concerted effort both individually and a team to get better. Again away from home we conceded three goals tonight so there’s things we can obviously improve on.”