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Finkler’s injury time stunner earns Victory a point

MELvWSWSubstitute Gui Finkler produced a wonderful 93rd minute free-kick to salvage a 1-1 draw in a closely fought and enthralling contest in front of 22,123 supporters at AAMI Park.

Tony Popovic surprised many in the build-up by dropping key men Shinji Ono and Tomi Juric out of the Wanderers squad altogether and benching Youssef Hersi, replaced by Labinot Haliti, Jason Trifiro and Kwabena Appiah.

Victory set the tone for the evening with a dangerous free-kick in the first minute before Pain bypassed two Wanderer’s defenders and produced a shot on goal a minute later.

The away side then set out trying to exploit Melbourne’s shaky defence, and Haliti almost made them pay when he met Polenz’s wonderful cross but was denied by a superb reaction save from Coe.

Popovic’s side were set up to frustrate the hosts and did a good job of it, too, keeping themselves compact around the area and allowing little time and space to the Victory players.

However, Victory had a chance to score in the 19th minute when Barbarouses eased his way past two Western Sydney players before playing an outstanding ball to Pain across the goal that Covic failed to reach. With an open goal begging, Pain slipped and caught the ball between his legs, in the end unable to convert the opportunity.

Match Details Full match details »

Date/Time Sat Dec 28, 2013, 7:45 PMStadium AAMI ParkAttendance 22,133Referee Peter Green

The ebb-and-flow continued, with Contreras making a crucial interception to stop the ball reaching Trifiro for a simple tap-in, while Troisi’s first time strike from a composed Nichols pass was blasted well over.

The Wanderers had claims for a penalty in the 29th minute when Leijer clumsily jumped into the back of Haliti but the appeals were waved away by Peter Green.

It began a small period of dominance for Western Sydney, with an open Minniecon curling a shot over the bar, before his excellent pass handed both Appiah and Haliti shots close to goal, but they were desperately blocked by the Melbourne defence.

Despite being on the back foot, Victory almost went to the break one-up. The last play of the half saw a Troisi shot rebound to an oncoming Pain yet the Melbourne player was denied by the outstretched Polenz.

The home side started the second half with more vigour as they won an early corner and continued to test Covic in goals.

It was all Victory and it looked like they earned a clear penalty in the 57th minute for handball against Topor-Stanley but their appeals were in vain. Peter Green arguably got his third penalty decision of the night wrong seven minutes later at the other end when Minniecon’s driven shot struck the outstretched arm of a diving Leijer.

Melbourne were controlling the second half but were only creating half chances from far out, and they were made to pay in the 71st minute when Santalab, played through by Minniecon, slid the ball home under an oncoming Coe to give the Wanderers the lead.

It ignited the Western Sydney side who began to create further opportunities, with Haliti’s free shot in the 76th minute blocked by Leijer and substitute Hersi forcing another brilliant save from Coe.

The match was looking like a replica of their last meeting back in November, with Victory pushing and pushing but the Wanderers defence holding firm. Even a Nichols shot from close range in the 84th minute deflected agonisingly wide of the post.

But Finkler had the last say, beating Covic with his superb strike to send the home supporters into wild celebrations and handing Melbourne a well-earned point.

About the author

avatarJulian is a freelance writer and editor, film festival programmer, and serial podcaster.

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