Sport Football Draw seals Victory A-League finals berth

Draw seals Victory A-League finals berth

Mark Milligan
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A late penalty from captain Mark Milligan sealed Melbourne Victory’s place in the A-League finals and dented Newcastle’s hopes of the same, in producing a 2-2 draw at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.

Newcastle led 2-1 at half-time and created the bulk of the chances in the second half before Jets defender Josh Mitchell, who was on his back, kicked out and fouled Victory striker Archie Thompson in front of goal in the 85th minute.

Milligan stepped up to the spot and made no mistake to give the visitors a point.

It moved them to 38 points and a guaranteed place in the final six with one round to play.

The Jets moved to 33, equal with Sydney, who play Wellington on Sunday.

Newcastle led 2-1 at the break after a four-minute goal frenzy midway through the half.

The Jets looked good early and threatened when Adam Taggart shot just wide in the fifth minute and Ruben Zadkovich cannoned a strike into the crossbar in the eighth.

Taggart made no mistake with his next chance, sliding between two defenders to take a beautiful Emile Heskey through-ball and side-foot it past Nathan Coe in the 18th minute.

Victory equalised in the 20th minute when an unmarked Adrian Leijer headed a corner from deep at the far post.

Milligan’s lunging header near the line made sure of it.

But Newcastle regained the lead two minutes later when Josh Brillante pounced on the scraps of a goal-mouth scramble and smashed a shot into the post.

It ricocheted off the back of Leijer and into goals.