Melbourne Victory will finish third in the Hyundai A-League after a 1-0 loss to Adelaide United on Friday.
George Blackwood’s 81st-minute goal was all that separated the teams in a tight encounter at Coopers Stadium.
Victory thought it had found the opener through James Donachie just moments earlier, but his header was ruled out for an apparent foul.
The result means Victory is guaranteed to finish third on the table and play a home Elimination Final in early May.
It was a cagey first half as both teams tried to settle in front of a big crowd.
Victory star James Troisi came off with a suspected hamstring injury, while the game started to come to life late in the half.
A Terry Antonis effort was deflected wide before Ola Toivonen curled a strike just off target on the stroke of half-time.
Victory made a bright start to the second half as Toivonen threatened twice, including shooting wide in the 52nd minute.
The visitor thought it had struck in the 79th minute through Donachie.
The centre-back headed in a corner from Keisuke Honda, but his effort was ruled out for an apparent foul.
Instead, Adelaide found a winner two minutes later, Blackwood heading in a cross from Isaias.
Player in focus
What they said – Donachie
on his disallowed goal…
“I’ll have to have a look back. I didn’t see the slow mo on the screen, but it felt good and I didn’t think there was much in it, but I’ll have to have a look back and see how it was.”
on the tight game…
“First half, we tried to play out a lot and it was getting pretty difficult because they were sending a lot of boys forward. We had to try and miss a few lines and then we realised we had to start playing in the front third more in the second half and then we had to stop the crosses and deal with the crosses better in the box and that’s what hurt us in the end I think.”
on finishing third…
“I thought the boys performed well tonight which is a big positive. We wanted to put a lot of pressure on Sydney for next week, but now we’ve just got to concentrate on going into finals with a good performance and a strong mindset. I thought the boys did well tonight, it was just a bit rough in the end.”
Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Round 26
Adelaide United 1 (George Blackwood 81′)
Melbourne Victory 0
Adelaide United: Izzo (gk); Galloway, Marrone, Jakobsen, Kitto; Isaias (c), Boland; Mileusnic (Lia 89′), Blackwood (Thomassen 85′), Goodwin; Halloran.
Melbourne Victory: Acton (gk); Deng (Roux 75′), Donachie, Niedermeier, Broxham (c); Baena; Honda, Troisi (Antonis 32′), Kamsoba (Athiu 85′); Barbarouses, Toivonen.
Yellow cards: Deng 10′, Honda 33′
Red cards: Nil
Venue: Coopers Stadium
Victory continues its AFC Champions League campaign at home to Guangzhou Evergrande on Tuesday, April 23.