MATCH REPORT | Grand Final heartbreak for Victory

Melbourne Victory narrowly missed out on their fifth Championship in Saturday’s Grand Final, losing 3-1 after a series of late Central Coast Mariner’s goals.

A sell-out crowd at Industree Group Stadium created an electric atmosphere in Gosford for the showpiece event of the season.

The game started as a tight and physical affair.

Daniel Arzani looked lively down the wing, whilst Jordi Valadon and Ryan Teague patrolled the midfield effectively.

The first major incident of the game arose from a head clash between Damien Da Silva and Alou Kuol, with both players requiring treatment before the game could re-start.

High quality chances remained hard to come by for both teams though, with the scores still locked when the half-time whistle blew.

The start of the second half was when Victory made their move, as Jason Geria created a moment of magic.

A daring run from Arzani took the ball into the penalty area, before Valadon played it back towards Geria on the edge of the box.

Geria then unleashed a rocket, thundering the ball past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

A remarkable strike from an unlikely source, Tony Popovic’s team had stormed into the lead.

Nishan Velupillay was brought into the game soon after the goal, as Victory’s attacking intent remained sharp.

As the second half continued, the Mariners began to dominate possession, allowing Victory to threaten on the counter.

Roly Bonevacia, Ben Folami, Jake Brimmer and Chris Ikonomidis were all brought off the bench, with Victory seeking to maintain their freshness on the pitch.

The final 20 minutes were played almost exclusively in Victory’s half, as the defensive efforts of the team continuously repelled the Mariners’ attacks.

However, as stoppage time arrived, a long-range strike from Ryan Edmondson broke Victory hearts, equalising at the death.

Extra time was therefore necessary, but the situation only worsened for Victory.

In the 97th minute, a slick passing move from the Mariners ended with Miguel Di Pizio, who scored to put the hosts in front.

Victory threw everything at the Mariners for the remainder of extra time, but were unable to find a saving goal.

The Mariners scored their third in the final period of stoppage time, securing back-to-back Championships.