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  • Writer's pictureCaydn Foley

Superb movement, overcoming fatigue, and a Socceroos claim: Fornaroli's incredible four-goal haul

Before this A-League Men season, I wrote that Melbourne Victory might need to sign a striker replacement for Bruno Fornaroli as he was getting older and he may no longer be able to play the role Tony Popovic required of him. Well, I guess that’s why I’m not a coach.

The 36-year-old's four goals at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon saw him turn back the clock and was the first time such a haul has been achieved in A-League history. Operating as a poacher, Fornaroli used his high football IQ to make lethal runs in the box to beat Newcastle centre-backs Mark Natta and Jason Hoffman repeatedly.


Fornaroli’s best goal of the day was an individual moment of brilliance from the Uruguayan forward. After making another great run into the box, the squared ball was slightly behind Fornaroli, which put his body shape in an awkward position as he was forced to pull off an incredible rabona. It's not the first time we've seen him pull this skill out, and it might not be the last.


“I think his movements are of a quality striker in the box,” Melbourne Victory manager Tony Popovic said post-game.


“Before every cross, he was making two movements, whether it was going near then going far, or far to near, and he looked sharp. He's doing a lot of good work around the box now.


“He works hard for the team. I think he's able to get there a lot easier now due to his fitness and his continued conditioning.”


Fornaroli was a bit worried coming into the game as he was playing on a lack of sleep the night before due to his youngest daughter being up all night with illness.


“I didn't have a great night,” the Uruguayan told the media post-game.


“My little one was really sick last night, so I couldn't sleep great. So I actually was worried before the game because it was not a great night for me.”

With his goal tally now up to five for the season, only two less than last season's total, and Fornaroli is already three goals clear on top in the Golden Boot race.


Popovic added more about how Victory feels it is counterproductive to treat Fornaroli as a 36-year-old player and how he and his coaching staff are not surprised by the forward's performances despite his age.


"If we start saying he's 36, well, then we treat him like a 36-year-old, which means we tell the player that he's too old, that he can't move, can't play, can't score,” Popovic said.


“He doesn't want that. He wants to be treated as a player that says, ‘I'll perform, and I'll play.’ If we can promote an 18-year-old, why can't a 36-year-old play?"

An under-appreciated part of Fornaroli's game is his ability to create space for his teammates to operate in. On Sunday, Daniel Arzani made a return to the form we know he's capable of, and Fornaroli‘s penalty box presence allowed the 24-year-old the room to take on his opposing fullback and combine with new signing Zinédine Machach, which generated a plethora of chances throughout the match.


"Last week, he (Arzani) was solid; he put the effort in without much of the end product or the quality that we know he possesses,” Popovic said.


“But you got to remember how much football he's played in the last two to three years has been very limited, and in places where you're on loan, very similar to Zinédine (Machach), where things go wrong, you're the first one out of the team, you know, you're not their player. You can get disillusioned quite quickly.


“He loves the game, he is an intelligent young man, he loves football. People don't quite understand that about him. He's really into his football, and he wants to be better, and today was an improvement."

 

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Daniel Arzani was another key performer in Victory's 5-3 win over Newcastle. (Melbourne Victory Instagram)


It’s still very early in the season, but things are looking positive for Melbourne Victory with the goals flowing and the North Terrace pumping again. The club hopes to put the last 12 tumultuous months behind them and kick off a new era of prosperity.


And for Bruno Fornaroli? Well, when asked if he was expecting a call from Graham Arnold for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh in Melbourne, he was unsure but assured reporters he would be all-in if called upon.


"No, I'm not closing the door (to Socceroos selection). But I made my debut at 35-years-old,” Fornaroli said.


“I showed that it's never too late to reach something you want. I'm working hard. It's up to Arnie to call me if he needs another number nine. Of course, I will keep working hard for this because I think it would be special.”

Socceroos selection for Bangladesh is right around the corner. So, too, is Melbourne Victory's next A-League Men clash, a blockbuster Original Rivalry against Adelaide United, pitting the top two sides against one another. It will also pit the league's leading scorer, Fornaroli, against its equal-best defence in Adelaide. What an occasion it promises to be.


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