Melbourne Victory moved into the Hyundai A-League Semi Finals with a 3-1 win over the Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park on Friday.
In an entertaining clash, goals from Georg Niedermeier, Kosta Barbarouses and Ola Toivonen guided Victory through.
Roy Krishna had pulled a goal back for Wellington, which had Michal Kopczynski sent off in the closing stages.
The result sent Victory into a Semi Final meeting with Sydney FC at Jubilee Stadium on Sunday, May 12.
Both teams made a lively start and Victory needed a fine early stop from Lawrence Thomas, who became the first goalkeeper to make 100 league appearances for the club.
Thomas dived well low to his left to push away a Krishna strike inside the first minute.
At the other end, Elvis Kamsoba was just unable to get enough on a cross from Keisuke Honda in the fourth minute.
Victory threatened again midway through the first half, Honda’s 25-yard strike pushed away by Phoenix goalkeeper Filip Kurto.
The host came to life after the opening 20 minutes and Toivonen went close as he saw an effort from outside the area fly wide.
Victory enjoyed some good moments in what was a battle, with Toivonen unable to find Barbarouses with a cross in the 40th minute.
However, Victory got its breakthrough three minutes before half-time through Niedermeier’s second goal of the season.
Honda’s wonderful set-piece found the run of the German defender, who beautifully flicked a header past Kurto to make it 1-0.
Victory almost doubled its lead to begin the second half, but Barbarouses fired wide at the back post after a cross from Toivonen.
But that duo would combine to put Victory 2-0 up in the 53rd minute.
Toivonen pounced on a poor pass from Mandi before playing in Barbarouses, who finished clinically in a one-on-one with Kurto.
Moments after Thomas pushed away a David Williams effort, Krishna pulled a goal back, tapping in a Sarpreet Singh cross.
Victory restored its two-goal lead in the 71st minute thanks to a sublime finish from Toivonen.
Barbarouses’ pass was partially blocked but still found Toivonen, who chipped a delicate finish over Kurto from a tight angle.
Kamsoba was denied late on by Kurto before Kopczynski picked up his second yellow card, Victory closing out a win in the Elimination Final.
Player in focus
What they said – Barbarouses
on what made the difference…
“To be patient. We set up in a certain way to play to our strengths and to find areas where we could expose them so credit to everyone at our club. We worked really hard during the week and the coaching staff set us up pretty well. Not really nervous moments at all, but we gave up a bit of the possession to allow us to do that.”
“He takes the attention away from me as well a little bit. At times, last year, I was getting marked out of games, now playing up top with him sort of takes the attention away from me, obviously his unselfish runs, he runs into spaces knowing he’s not going to get the ball a lot of the time, which allows me to get in behind. And we’ve got a good partnership obviously. I don’t know if that counts as an assist for me (for the third goal), I think it should, but we work really well together.”
Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Elimination Final
Melbourne Victory 3 (Georg Niedermeier 42′, Kosta Barbarouses 53′, Ola Toivonen 71′)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Roy Krishna 64′)
Melbourne Victory: Thomas (gk); Deng, Donachie, Niedermeier, Broxham (c); Baena (Valeri 85′); Honda, Antonis, Kamsoba (Athiu 90+6′); Barbarouses (Roux 90+5′), Toivonen.
Wellington Phoenix: Kurto (gk); Taylor, Durante (c), Kopczynski; Lowry (Elliot 90′), Rufer, Burgess, Mandi (Singh 57′), Cacace; Krishna, Williams (Sheridan 77′).
Yellow cards: Kopczynski 7’/90+3′, Williams 41′, Burgess 56′, Rufer 77′, Sheridan 90+5′, Cacace 90+7′
Red cards: Kopczynski 90+3′
Venue: AAMI Park
Victory is back in action on Wednesday, facing Daegu away in the AFC Champions League.