Melbourne Victorious in Grand Final

Melbourne Victory have defeated Sydney FC in the Hyundai A-League grand final on Sunday afternoon at AAMI Park.

It was a real battle in the first 45 minutes of the 10th A-League grand final. The favourites Melbourne had proved through the year that they could handle Sydney’s attack while the Sky Blues were looking for Bernie Ibini to continue his rich vein of form after scoring in each of his last four games.

In the struggle for ascendency, Bersart Berisha let Matthew Jurman feel the sting of competition with an elbow to the face during a contest for a midfield header in the 17th minute. Previous team mates at Brisbane Roar, Berisha showed concern for his friend and was also shown yellow for the careless swinging elbow. Jurman enjoyed five stitches at the break.

Sydney defender and French import Jacques Faty was forced from the field in the 18th minute after surrendering to a hamstring injury. Rhyan Grant replaced the key defender, whose presence the Sky Blues would miss.

Berisha seemed to be in everything going forward for Melbourne. The enigmatic forward felt the slightest brush on the ankles by Bernie Ibini just outside the box in the 18th minute, setting Victory up with a free kick. Victory have scored 8 times from set shots but Kosta Barbarouses was unable to convert, spraying over the bar. 

The midfield exchanges were heavy and Sydney were throwing everything at the Victory who were clearly in control. Substitute Rhyan Grant raised his boot from behind on Khalfallah in the 28th minute forcing the referee to instantly pull out a yellow card. 

The pressure was finally converted into something tangible for the Victory and the trophy was within grasp when Barbarouses found Berisha in the box. The key striker controlled the ball with his chest, turned with the ball on his left and fired across keeper Vedran Janjetovic. 1-0 to Melbourne in the 33rd minute with Berisha sinking his 4th grand final goal in 3 appearances.

The victory enjoyed 59% of possession in the first half with Kosta Barbarouses, captain Mark Milligan and Carl Valeri keeping the ball from Ibini and Alex Brosque. The Sky blue’s captain was only able to fire one shot on target from outside the box in the first half. Thomas was equal to the task, pushing the thundering ball out over the back line with a good save. 

With 5 shots to Sydney’s 1, Melbourne were showing everyone why they were such heavy favourites. 

“An edgy start,” was the reflection of Melbourne Victory defender Leigh Broxham at the half break.

“We need to remain switched on.”

An AAMI Park record 29,843 fans were hoping that the second half would deliver an equally as impressive standard and possibly more of a contest as the players resumed.

Mark Milligan volleyed a chipped pass from Berisha wide in the opening minutes as Victory picked up where they left of.  Sydney managed to gain more of the ball early in the second half, but did not look like cancelling the deficit on the scoreboard.

Sydney had twice the amount of interceptions midway through the second half (14-7) and were looking to break through with the long ball forward. Melbourne were solid in the air, comforted by their goal advantage. Petkovic and Valeri were both dealt yellow cards within minutes of each other as they brought down midfielders who had found a way through the defensive line. 

Melbourne earned yet another corner in the 69th minute, leading the count 7-1. The set plays were not giving Sydney much to worry about as the defence held strong. 

A critical missed opportunity by Marc Janko in the penalty box looked to deflate the Sky Blue attack. The forward found himself free as a cross was whipped in, only for the solid attempt to find the keepers gloves comfortably.

Kosta Barbarouses was given too much space in the 82nd minute and he made the most of the ability to run into the box. Barbarouses dished right to Khalfallah who returned the ball inside the penalty box. Barbarouses used the outside of his right boot to lift the ball into the net and secure a memorable win for the Melbourne Victory.

Carl Valeri became the sixth man to get a red card in a grand final after foolishly kicking the ball away and earning a second yellow. Melbourne didn’t take a backward step, with Leigh Broxham charging through to link up with a pass into the box and smah the third goal for his side in the 89th minute.

Archie Thompson was rightly given time on the pitch to enjoy another win with the only A-League club he has ever served. 

“It means everything, we have been working so hard for 11 months,” commented Kosta Barbarouses after the match. 

“We are the best attacking team, we are the best defending team and we deserve to win,” exclaimed a jubilant Bersart Berisha. 

Melbourne claimed their third premiership in a dominant display of tough yet elegant football leaving Sydney FC in their wake. Mark Milligan was awarded the Joe Marston Medal for best on ground. 


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