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Victory march on to fourth Grand Final

One of the best atmospheres in A-League history was on show nationwide as just over fifty-thousand supporters packed into Etihad Stadium to see rivals Melbourne Victory take on Melbourne City this evening.

Hearing in the lead up about the last time an all-Melbourne finals match was played in Australia (the 1998 NSL Grand Final), even the most ardent of Melbourne Victory ‘haters’ would have struggled to not be moved by the sound of ‘Stand by Me’ being sung prior to kick-off.

How far we’ve come.

The first ten minutes struggled to produce any clear cut opportunities, despite both sides displaying a very direct brand of football.

Former French youth international Harry Novillo nearly opened the scoring as he cut in from the left and unleashed a powerful effort just wide of Lawrence Thomas’ goal.

It took just seventeen minutes for the home side to take the lead when Kostas Barbarouses found an overlapping run from Leigh Broxham, who crossed to an unmarked Besart Berisha to score his fifth goal against Melbourne City this season, taking his season tally to fourteen.

Forced into action after going down, City nearly equalised five minutes later when the ball was squared sharply to David Williams who was unable to slide in to score.

Fringe Socceroo Aaron Mooy also went close as he drove an effort over the bar.

Victory’s set-piece nightmare against their rivals nearly continued when Novillo’s header was saved well down low by Thomas.

However, in keeping with the behaviour of premiers, Victory capitalised on City’s missed opportunities as they doubled the lead just inside half an hour.

A cross from Daniel Georgievski found Barbarouses unmarked on the edge of the area. The New Zealander then executed, technique-wise, a near-perfect volley off the laces that crashed into the top corner.

Another set-piece opportunity was carved out by City on the stroke of half-time, but Paddy Kisnorbo’s header did not trouble the scorers.

Harry Novillo brought the second-half to life with a powerful strike, although it too was skied over the bar.

With Victory struggling to get their foot on the ball, Novillo again tested Thomas, this time with a free-kick that the young custodian was just able to tip onto the bar.

Unfortunately, the Frenchman soon left the field injured, remarkably becoming the third Melbourne City player to do so on the night.

From there, City lost their sense of direction, having already lost playmaker Aaron Mooy earlier in the half. The Victory, meanwhile, were simply happy to retain possession and pick their moments to push forward.

Patrick Kisnorbo was thrown forward in a desperate attempt to get back into the game. The former Socceroo seemed to have nosebleeds once he did have an opportunity on goal, as he skewed a clear-cut opportunity wide of the post.

But it was a case of deja-vu for City as they saw their profligacy punished as Archie Thompson pounced on a save from Tando Velaphi to seal it for his beloved Melbourne Victory.

Despite their best efforts, it all proved too much for a City side cruelly rid of their two best performers early in the second half.

Victory march on to a home final next weekend; their opponents will be decided tomorrow evening as Sydney FC host Adelaide United at Allianz Stadium.

About the author

avatarAlessandro is an avid Sydney FC fan, and a contributor to Ultimate A-League.

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  • britesparke

    Did you watch the game? The Barbarouses volley was a sublime first touch with his body angled having to take it with his right foot, and the provider with the precision cross was Ben Khalfallah NOT Georgievski as you state! The mind games have started with Arnie stating that his side is the *best in the A League (* since January this year) which is true BUT (and a very big one at that!) Victory have been the best team ALL season -a fact conveniently overlooked by Arnold. He has to take his team to AAMI Park which will be a cauldron of 25,000 + Victory supporters all spurring their team on.