Sport Football A-League Grand Final: the defining moments

A-League Grand Final: the defining moments

Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

There was only one hue of blue that turned up at AAMI Park in any meaningful way on Sunday – for heaven’s sake Leigh Broxham scored a goal, in his third championship win no less.

The 3-0 Grand Final triumph was Besart Berisha’s fourth, Archie Thompson’s third and it made Kevin Muscat the first man to play in and coach an A-League Championship.

As for Sydney, they seemed stuck in a desperate freeze for the whole afternoon after being ruthlessly jumped early by a dogged and tireless press.

Hypocrisy of A-League’s #EraseRacism round
A-League 2015: best goals, gaffes, moments
David Gallop on the challenges of Australia’s football boom

For the 29,843 fans who were lucky enough to get a ticket (minus those few in Sky Blue) they might not have seen a more one-sided game of football.

Not one that meant so much, anyway. 

Muscat atoned for his penalty miss against Sydney in the 2010 Grand Final by putting out a team who smothered the opposition and seemed undaunted by the possibility of running out of energy.

While Sydney’s flaccid performance was surprising and disappointing, Melbourne Victory’s third championship will be sweet revenge and satisfaction for anyone of a navy blue persuasion who remembers 2010.

This is not an apparition, Leigh Broxham scored in an A-League Grand Final. Photo: Getty

Here’s how Melbourne Victory won the 2014/15 Grand Final.

1. Faty does his hammy

The Senegalese defender, 31, has had an enormous influence on Sydney FC this season and he showed his value early in the Grand Final.

As Victory bullied the game’s opening through Mark Milligan’s desperate jockeying and vision, he played a sharp pass into the feet of Besart Berisha.

Usually a dominating receiver of the ball, Berisha was completely consumed by the defending of Faty who won the challenge and the ball comprehensively.

But in that act, Faty’s hamstring popped just as quickly as he’d taken possession from Melbourne’s lethal striker.

In an opening 28 minutes where Victory enjoyed 71 per cent of the ball Faty’s dispossession of Berisha was essentially the Sky Blue’s only win.

That loss of possession and Berisha’s early yellow card wasn’t the striker’s best start, but he turned that all around once Faty left the game – and what a turnaround it was.

2. Berisha turns Melbourne’s possession into a lead

Forget the fortune of the ball deflecting straight to the Albanian and don’t heap all praise on his clinical finish – perhaps the league’s best ever striker treated Australia to a reflexive and ingenious touch to create the opening goal.

With his back to the target on the edge of the six-yard box, the ball dropped to Berisha who scooped it behind him deftly. By the time he’d turned his body it fell in front of him at the perfect height to lash home.

In a crowded penalty area with a defender right up his backside, Berisha’s magic touch seemingly stopped time and cleared space for him to send an already rocking AAMI Park into delirium.

3. Enter Shane Smeltz and Terry Antonis

Graham Arnold went to his bench in the 53rd minute and made the change that had to happen.

Shane Smeltz, who in his long and lethal A-League career has scored 15 goals in 18 games against Victory, gave Sydney the kick in the pants they needed.

More specifically it changed the Sky Blue formation to two up front, which forced Mathieu Delpierre and Nick Ansell to be that little bit more accountable.

Arnold reloaded again when Terry Antonis came on in the 75th minute to help his side create something.

That two of the competition’s most dangerous players couldn’t turn the tide of the game, not even minutely, spoke to just how terrible Sydney FC were.

4. Millsy’s match, Millsy’s medal

Melbourne Victory are back at the top of Australian football. Photo: Getty

“I want what he’s on,” Fox Sports commentator Andy Harper said as Mark Milligan burst through midfield yet again.

The Socceroo and former Sydney FC captain, Milligan was the standout player from the first whistle to the last.

In the first 15 minutes he set the tone for the match by playing a raking ball to put Kosta Barbarouses through on goal and manically chasing down Milos Dimitrijevic for Gui Finkler to push his team forward.

He continued that effort for the whole game, the most lethal prong in a stunning performance.

Melbourne Victory executives can justify their decision to disallow him to jet off to Crystal Palace.

5. Janko fires a blank-o

Marc Janko, the Austrian captain and A-League Golden Boot winner who can head a ball into a net at will, saw his forehead fail him in the 75th minute.

For once in the game the big striker found himself free of Delpierre’s torridly close marking and rose unopposed to meet a cross right in the middle of the box.

That his strike fell into the arms of the well-positioned Lawrence Thomas was a symptomatic event for a game where Syndey looked a shell of their usual selves.

Some six minutes later Victory burst from a Sky Blue attack to launch a move that resulted in a goal mouth scramble – and Kosta Barbarouses fired home the sealer.

What could have been if Janko nodded truly?

View Comments