Melbourne Victory are the A-League champions, outworking and eventually outclassing Sydney FC en route to a 2-0 Grand Final win at AAMI Park.
Victory were the hungrier side all day and they never allowed Sydney to get a foothold in the match.
After taking the lead through Besart Berisha’s exquisite left-foot strike in the 33rd minute, they had to wait until the 83rd to seal the win thanks to a Kosta Barbarouses goal.
Leigh Broxham’s 90th-minute goal was the icing on the cake.
The win makes Victory coach Kevin Muscat the first man to both play in and coach an A-League title.
It was also sweet revenge for Muscat, who missed a penalty in the 2010 Grand Final shootout, which Sydney FC won.
Led by inspirational captain Mark Milligan, Victory were simply everywhere, defending from the very front.
A raucous crowd of 29,843 kept their spirits high throughout, creating the intense atmosphere predicted by Muscat.
The success is Victory’s first in five years and gives the club an A-League record befitting their off-field stature.
An injury to defender Jacques Faty did not help Sydney, who hobbled from the ground within the opening half hour.
In the first 30 minutes, the Sky Blues had completed just 24 passes and shortly after they were behind.
Gui Finkler cushioned Barbarouses’ firm cross into the path of Berisha, who expertly controlled and lashed past Vedran Janjetovic.
After goals in two grand final wins with Brisbane Roar, the big-stage Albanian proved his worth yet again.
It was a goal that Victory deserved and finally sprung Sydney FC to life.
Only in first-half injury time did captain Alex Brosque have his side’s first shot of the match.
It nearly got worse for the Sky Blues, with two brain fades in two minutes from Matthew Jurman that nearly gifted Milligan and Barbarouses a second.
The injection of Shane Smeltz gave them a new route to goal but it was golden boot winner Marc Janko that had Sydney’s best chance.
With 15 minutes remaining, the Austrian marquee’s free header was well saved by Lawrence Thomas.
But with seven minutes left on the clock, Victory’s Kiwi livewire poked home a loose ball in the box to make the game safe.
Carl Valeri was needlessly sent off after a second yellow card with three minutes remaining for kicking the ball away but there was still time for more celebration.
The stoppage time introduction of Archie Thompson brought the Victory crowd to life once more, but he was upstaged by Broxham.
The Victory utility latched onto Fahid Ben Khalfallah’s through-ball to claim a third goal and send the crowd into raptures.
– with AAP