'Absolute joke': Fiery Melbourne derby overshadowed by VAR controversy

The A-League’s epic first round derby between Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City has been overshadowed by a controversial VAR moment.

After Victory’s marquee man Keisuke Honda opened the scoring in the 28th minute, a bizarre decision levelled the score in the 39th minute.

City’s star player Bruno Fornaroli was deemed to be fouled on the edge of the penalty box, and after the referee was called upon to make a VAR review – the initial foul resulted in a penalty.

It’s fair to say, fans and pundits were absolutely fuming.

Bruno Fornaroli was deemed to be fouled after a VAR review. Pic: Fox Sports

“Absolutely disgraceful decision,” Mark Bosnich said.

“Ive always been backing referees…I feel so sorry for Melbourne Victory.

“He has a chance to have a look at it, this is not the VAR, this is the referee not understanding that this is not a foul.

“All of a sudden the first big decision we have here, and there is an absolute stuff-up.”

The comments made by Mark Bosnich echoed the overwhelming chorus of outrage by fans on social media, calling it an “absolute joke”:

Former A-League striker turned commentator Archie Thompson also weighed in on the controversial call.

“It’s taken the steam out of what was a dominant performance by Victory,” Archie Thompson said.

“Then you get a silly decision…and again we saw it last year in one of the biggest matches of the season, and now we’re seeing it again.

“I can understand why they’re upset because it’s ruining our game.”

Florin Berenguer wasn’t able to convert the resulting penalty though, but former Leicester defender Richie De Laet pounced on the loose ball to level the score.

The second half was as tight as they come, with the point of difference coming from a City bench player, Riley McGree.

Riley McGree of the Melbourne City celebrates scoring the winning goal during the round one A-League match between Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City. Pic: Getty

In what was just his first touch of the match, McGree made a bursting run forward to connect with an inch-perfect ball from Luke Brattan – scoring in the 70th minute.

“What an opportunity it was, I had a point to prove tonight,” McGree said.

“I try to give my all every game and I did today.”

The Melbourne derby finished with Melbourne City claiming the bragging rights, with an emphatic 2-1 victory over their biggest rivals.