Muscat: We’ve earned Grand Final spot


Melbourne Victory head coach Kevin Muscat praised his team for the way it earned its spot in the Hyundai A-League Grand Final.

Victory recorded a thrilling 3-2 win over Sydney FC after extra time in an incredible Semi Final at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.

Terry Antonis scored the match-winner in the 117th minute, the midfielder having earlier netted an own goal to send the clash into extra time.

Kosta Barbarouses and James Troisi had put Victory ahead after Stefan Nigro’s first-half own goal.

Speaking at a post-match news conference, Muscat discussed his side’s win, the Grand Final and Rhys Williams’ injury in the warm-up.

on conceding a late equaliser in regulation time…
“It was the story of the night. We played some really good stuff. I thought it was a good game of football and then we got undone with that one (late) just by luck. The ball has been put into the box and Matty Simon comes on and causes absolute carnage as he’s done and it falls to them. We scored five goals tonight. I thought it was certainly deserved, it was a great night, there’s a great feeling through them change rooms, great performance and great to go into the big dance next week.”

on Antonis’ response…
“Naturally, you could see physically and emotionally he was disappointed and it’s human nature to feel so. It was just a matter of speaking to him and getting him out of that. Games like tonight, there’s a thousand battles and getting him to forget about the past and concentrating on just winning one battle at a time. When he turned – he was in our half when he turned (for the winner). We got taunted during the week about them being physically better than us, I can’t remember who said it because they all had a go, but whichever player it was, I didn’t see us cramping up and (Michael) Zullo walking with injury and Bobo cramping up. Sometimes when you talk too much, it could come back to bite you.”

on Williams’ injury…
“I was really upset for him. The team, as a team you just move on, you get on with it and it’s just another challenge, but I was really upset for him because he deserved to be out there. He’s been the premium central defender in the competition. I wanted to make sure that he was part of it and that he felt part of it because he’s contributed a hell of a lot. Having said that, I said to him after the game, ‘Tommy (Deng) comes in and he’s the best player on the park’. There was some reshuffling that we had to do. Maybe Stef wasn’t as prepared as he might have been if he knew he was starting so it took him a little while. Again, it’s unfortunate the ball comes off him, he doesn’t see it and he scores an own goal, but then for him to recover the way he did showed enormous character and I’m pleased for him, but I’m shattered for Rhys because he deserved to be out there.”

on Lawrence Thomas’ performance…
“Outstanding. I forgot about him when I said Tommy Deng was man of the match. He was outstanding. He pulled off some very, very good saves. The one where he swipes the ball in the first half that was dinked over him was excellent. He was constant throughout. His performance was outstanding, his decision-making, he was great, along with his team-mates, I thought it was a great performance and a great night for us. I don’t think anyone gave us a chance and we’ve done it.”

on potential fatigue…
“We’ll be all right. You can throw as much negativity as you want, we’ll be all right. We’ll assess Rhys tomorrow, get him scanned up and Chrissy (Theoharous) copped a couple of tackles at the end there that were forceful so we’ll have a look at him and we’ll be all right. We’ve earned the right to play in that final next week. That’s three in four years and the opposition tonight have never beat us in a final so we’re pretty proud of that record, it’s a great record to have, never beat us in a final.”

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