Victory beat Glory to stay alive


Melbourne Victory stunned Perth Glory with a late equaliser in regulation before winning their A-League elimination final 2-1 in extra-time at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

Melbourne Victory stunned Perth Glory with a late equaliser in regulation before winning their A-League elimination final 2-1 in extra-time at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

Ryo Nagai shocked the home crowd early in the first half and it looked like Perth would get the upset as the Japanese youngster was brought down for a penalty with three minutes to go.

But Shane Smeltz hit his penalty off the cross-bar and Victory managed to equalise from a controversial spot-kick through Mark Milligan as Perth’s Steve Pantelidis was given a second yellow card for dissent.

And then four minutes into the first period of extra-time, the prolific Archie Thompson got on the end of a delightful cross from Marco Rojas to score the decisive goal and send Victory into a semi-final against the Central Coast Mariners next weekend.

There was a warning for Victory on 11 minutes as Adrian Zahra blasted over the bar after Smeltz and Liam Miller combined wonderfully.

Four minutes later the home was silenced when Victory keeper Nathan Coe hesitated as Scott Jamieson’s cross from the left came in and Nagai chested the ball home from inside the six-yard box.

A poor clearance by Danny Vukovic gave Victory an immediate chance to equalise but Leigh Broxham failed to hit the target from 40 yards as the Perth keeper was scrambling back.

A spell of Victory possession was again met by great Glory organisation and defence but in the 35th minute a driving Rojas run broke down the Perth lines and Broxham couldn’t quite finish off the squared cross as Josh Risdon made a vital block.

Perth had a couple of long range efforts by Matias Cordoba before half-time but both were marginally off-target.

The game opened up in the second half as Victory coach Ange Postecoglou brought on marquee man Marcos Flores for young defender Jason Geria and switched Broxham to full-back.

A superb counter-attack by Perth in the 57th minute nearly brought the second goal as Miller played a wondrous pass to Smeltz in space, but the New Zealand international was foiled by a brilliant Coe save.

A pair of chances to Thompson and Rojas were struck over the bar before the latter’s free kick was met by Flores, whose header drifted just over the crossbar on 59 minutes.

The game heated up in the second half with a number of challenges being punished with yellow cards, including Pantelidis- robust tackle on Thompson which would later come back to haunt him.

Substitute Andrew Nabbout breathed life into the Victory attack and his shot in the 86th minute after combining with Connor Pain was superbly blocked by a charging Glory defender.

When Milligan fouled Jamieson in the penalty area with three minutes to go, Smeltz stepped up with a golden chance to seal a famous victory for Perth.

But the A-League’s all-time top scorer smashed his penalty off the bar and started an extraordinary chain of events.

Victory went straight up the other end and when Nabbout went down softly in the box under pressure from Pantelidis, referee Jarred Gillett pointed to the spot.

In the ensuing chaos after the penalty, Pantelidis was given a second yellow card for dissent and Milligan promptly redeemed his earlier poor challenge to convert the penalty past a diving Vukovic to send the game into extra-time.

With the Melbourne crowd going crazy after Victory’s escape at the death, it took only four minutes into extra-time for them to go ahead as Thompson headed home Rojas’ cross from point blank despite a valiant Vukovic effort to keep it out.

Despite being a man down, Perth worked hard throughout extra-time to work their way back into the game and had a penalty shout waved away as Nagai went down while Heffernan squandered a golden chance with only two minutes to go.

But Victory held on, despite missing easy chances to Rojas and Nabbout, to face Central Coast Mariners away next week for a spot in the Grand Final.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Milligan 90+1pen, Thompson 94)
Perth Glory 1 (Nagai 15)

HT: 0-1
FT: 1-1

HT/ET: 2-1
Crowd: 22,902

Melbourne Victory: 5. Mark Milligan, 6. Leigh Broxham (21. Spase Dilevski 109), 10. Archie Thompson, 11. Marco Rojas, 14. Billy Celeski, 23. Adrian Leijer (C), 30. Jason Geria (9. Marcos Flores 49), 31. Scott Galloway (26. Andrew Nabbout 83), 32. Connor Pain, 33. Daniel Mullen, 39. Nathan Coe (GK)
Yellow Cards: Rojas 45+1, Geria 48, Broxham 53, Celeski 71, Leijer 75

Perth Glory : 1. Danny Vukovic (GK), 5. Steve Pantelidis, 7. Jacob Burns (C), 9. Shane Smeltz, 10. Liam Miller (28. Daniel De Silva 105), 11. Adrian Zahra (8. Dean Heffernan 63), 12. Ryo Nagai, 18. Matias Cordoba (14. Steven McGarry 91), 19. Josh Risdon, 21. Scott Jamieson, 23. Michael Thwaite
Yellow Cards: Jamieson 27, Pantelidis 68
Red Card: Pantelidis 90