Melbourne Victory head coach Kevin Muscat praised Besart Berisha after the forward’s incredible winner against Adelaide United.
Berisha struck with a stunning overhead kick in the 89th minute at AAMI Park on Sunday to see Victory claim a come-from-behind win in the Elimination Final.
Leroy George had earlier cancelled out Nikola Mileusnic’s opener in an enthralling second half.
Speaking at a post-match news conference, Muscat was asked about Berisha’s match-wining contribution and his team’s fight.
on whether Berisha was about to come off before his winner…
“We were preparing all the subs. It looked like it was heading towards the last few moments of the game. I really had a strong belief that the players out there would carve out an opportunity and Bes didn’t have too many all night and probably the most difficult chance he’s had in a long time, he found an unbelievable finish so it’s pleasing from that perspective. We were readying the subs because the time of the game and obviously if it was going to go into injury time, we wanted to make sure that they were well directed in terms of what they needed to do.”
on what the goal says about Berisha…
“I think I’ve said it many times. He’s got high expectations of himself and I think the way his career has gone since he’s been in Australia, the expectation of him from all of us – yourselves and everyone else – is very high and that’s because of what he has produced so these games, in finals especially, he’s a proven winner and I’m really pleased for him. He puts in a hell of a lot of effort and we’ve now got to the point where we’ve got someone in Kenny (Athiu) who can contribute. It’s no slur or anything on Bes, we’ve got someone else who can contribute and influence the game also. I thought when he came on, he was outstanding, in his moments that he was out there, he’s developed into a reliable footballer. I’m pleased for Bes and pleased for Kosta (Barbarouses) as well.”
on his team’s fight…
“We spoke at half-time about how Adelaide set up and play the way they want to play, everyone plays to their strengths, but losing the ball in front of their front three – let alone in front of the back four – was causing us issues. You send a lot of men forward and you lose the ball just in front of their midfield three and then you’re chasing back to your own goal very, very quickly with balls over the top and in wide areas so the second half we spoke about getting more of the ball out to Kosta, more of the ball out to Leroy in one-on-one situations rather than in a congested area in the middle of the park.
“Kosta’s contribution for the two goals was outstanding and great perseverance because front players in these types of games – because let’s be honest, it was a battle, it was a fight, it was everything bar a good footballing game in my terms, in my definition of football but we were up for that challenge and we knew it was coming. We knew it was going to be turned into a fight and the way we stuck at it right until the death and kept asking questions, real positive signs for the group and we’ve been working and getting stronger and stronger over a period of time and that was evidence of it once again tonight.”