The Christmas turkey will taste a lot better for Victory fans after the Big V stole a 1-0 win in the dying seconds of the Melbourne Derby, thanks to a Mark Milligan penalty.
Seven months ago Victory were centimetres away from claiming an A-League championship, but have found themselves playing catch up this season.
Fans have expressed their frustrations with coach Kevin Muscat and Valeri, with some labelling the captain 'slow'.
However, the skipper was not prepared to individualise.
“I think with fan frustration, when you go through a bad season, everyone scrutinises every little detail, so that’s understandable,” Valeri told FourFourTwo post-match.
“It’s important that we get back on track as a team and we perform as a team. Individual performances, to me, doesn’t mean much because I’m a team player, so the fact we’re getting results is a good and positive thing.
“I thought we dominated the game, especially in the first-half, we created a lot of chances. What was great to see is we went out and we did what we planned to do. We’re unified and our actions spoke.
“I don’t know if it would’ve been an injustice if we didn’t win, football is football and in the end, we won. I think the fact we persisted the whole 90 minutes and got a penalty in the dying seconds is reward enough.
“Some will say it’s luck, but we persisted, kept going, asked questions and in the end we got what we deserved.”
Valeri also praised Milligan after his speedy recovery from a hamstring injury he picked up against Adelaide United a fortnight ago.
Milligan lasted 25 minutes against City and was fouled by Dean Bouzanis in the box in the dying seconds. He subsequently converted the spot-kick himself.
“He had a little injury? Big deal, he’s back and stronger than ever,” Valeri said.
“Millsy is a fantastic leader, I think we work well together, he can do things I can’t and he’s a really gifted player.
“He’s been in the Socceroos for three World Cups, going into his fourth, and there’s a reason behind that. He’s still going and plugging away.
“It’s always a mental battle, they’re a tough team and derbies are special. You could feel the atmosphere out there was fantastic and we came away with it. Millsy showed great composure and took the penalty well.
“The excitement is everlasting in football, that’s why I play. You get that thrill towards the end to win at home, and to score that final goal in front of our fans is something special.”