Furious coach Kevin Muscat called for full-time officials after claiming Melbourne Victory were “embarrassingly” robbed of an A-League title shot in Sunday’s dramatic 1-0 semi-final loss to Brisbane Roar.
The Roar will host their third grand final in four seasons at Suncorp Stadium – against Western Sydney Wanderers – after Victory-bound Besart Berisha tormented his future club.
The fiery Albanian international scored his fifth goal in seven matches against Melbourne with a stunning 35m run for a superb 58th-minute match-winner.
It set the stage for a perfect farewell to Brisbane next Sunday, but not before the Victory felt they’d done enough to send the match into extra-time.
In the first of two goal-line scrambles in injury time, Victory skipper Mark Milligan was brought down by sliding Roar counterpart Matt Smith after collecting a superb parry by goalkeeper Michael Theo.
Melbourne’s players and bench appealed to referee Stebre Delovski for a penalty but their howls of protest went unrewarded.
In a long post-match rant, Muscat demanded swift action by Football Federation Australia following the “staggering” decision.
“For an official to dictate the result of a game is embarrassing,” he fumed. “It’s beyond belief how that can be missed.
He’s not paid to think, he’s paid to get decisions right.
“At this level, to be so distanced from the game and to get such a big decision wrong, the FFA should really analyse and look into how we get this better because from my perspective the referees need to be full-time to really be taken seriously.
“We won’t be the only ones not in the grand final next week, because surely he can’t be in the final making decisions like that.”
Muscat also unleashed an on-field spray against Delovski who had apparently told Milligan he didn’t think there was contact.
“He’s not paid to think, he’s paid to get decisions right,” he said.
“From where I was, it looked like he put the whistle to his mouth and basically bottled it. Big crowd, home team, bottled it.”
Muscat said it was particularly hard to take after Melbourne were also denied a blatant penalty in their scoreless Asian Champions League draw against Jeonbuk in South Korea on Tuesday.
But Milligan, who did not appeal until after the ball was cleared from the Roar’s goal area, was less certain of the call.
“I thought there was contact, maybe it was unsighted,” the captain told Fox Sports. “It wasn’t one that sometimes you get, sometimes you don’t.”
The injury-time drama didn’t stop there as a game of pinball from the ensuing corner forced Matt McKay to head off the goal line as the crowd of 28,350 held their breath.
The Roar can now become the most successful club in A-League history by beating the Wanderers for a third championship to go along with their two premierships.