Melbourne Victory has produced its greatest performance when it mattered most, capping an outstanding season with a 6-0 thumping of Adelaide United to secure the Hyundai A-League 2007 Championship.
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Archie Thompson scored five goals as a capacity crowd of 55,436 turned Telstra Dome into a sea of blue, smashing the previous attendance record for an Australian domestic league match by over 5000.
Kristian Sarkies netted the sixth and final goal in the 93rd minute to complete an incredible night for Victory, which became the first club to win the Hyundai A-League Premiership-Championship double.
Thompson was awarded the Joe Marston Medal for his man-of-the-match performance, while captain Kevin Muscat, Fred and Adrian Caceres were also outstanding for Melbourne in a totally dominant display.
There was not a spare seat in the house as the season decider began with Thompson lively from the outset. The Socceroo had his first chance after three minutes when he pounced on a through ball from Caceres, forcing Adelaide goalkeeper Daniel Beltrame into an early save.
The Reds were good value early, and the travelling supporters could hardly believe their side was unable to opening the scoring after two successive shots on target. The first was denied by Michael Theoklitos, before Rodrigo Vargas desperately blocked the second attempt.
At the other end of the pitch, Thompson opened his Grand Final account after 21 minutes. Scottish midfielder Grant Brebner, who passed a late fitness test to take his place in the starting line-up, lobbed a ball to Fred, allowing the Brazilian to find Thompson.
The striker’s shot flew past Beltrame and hit the inside of the post before rolling over the line despite Angelo Costanzo’s desperate effort to clear it, giving Victory the lead.
Thompson struck again in the 29th minute as Melbourne’s three key attackers combined brilliantly. Allsopp burst forward to the edge of the penalty area and found Fred out wide, the Brazilian providing another assist for Thompson to fire home from close range.
The contest went from bad to worse for Adelaide when Ross Aloisi was sent off in the 34th minute, the Reds skipper given his marching orders after receiving his second caution of the match.
Thompson all but sealed the result as half-time approached, completing the first hat-trick in Melbourne Victory Football Club’s short history.
This time it was Muscat who found Thompson the penalty area, the striker weaving his way through a dejected United defence before making it 3-0 with a powerful shot.
The second half was just 46 seconds old when Thompson nearly added to his tally, his shot rebounding off the woodwork as rain remarkably began to fall inside Telstra Dome after the temprature nudged 40 degrees earlier in the day.
Fred and Allsopp also had chances that hit the post, while Thompson became the first player to score four goals in a Hyundai A-League match in the 65th minute.
Fred was the creator once again, recording his third assist of the evening with a ball that placed Thompson one-on-one with Beltrame, who had little hope of preventing the inevitable.
Head coach Ernie Merrick made two substitutions following the fourth goal, replacing Brebner with 19-year-old Leigh Broxham and bringing Caceres’ magnificent game to an end with the introduction of James Robinson.
Bruce Djite almost clawed one back for the visitors with the shot that cannoned off the crossbar, only for Thompson to strike once again on the subsequent counter-attack.
Sarkies was handed the honour of replacing Thompson as stoppage time approached, and he finished the night for Victory with a stunning solo effort that found the top corner of Beltrame’s goal.
It was a performance to remember for many years to come, with the normally reserved Merrick even finding time to elicit a smile as the team acknowledged the enormous crowd with a lap of honour.
Prime Minister John Howard was on hand to present the players with their Championship medals, and the occasion was complete with Muscat holding the Hyundai A-League Championship trophy high into the night’s sky to a chorus of cheers from the record crowd.
Hyundai A-League 2007 Grand Final
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Telstra Dome, Melbourne
Melbourne Victory 6 (Archie Thompson 20’/29’/39’/56’/72′, Kristian Sarkies 90+3′)
Adelaide Untied 0
Melbourne Victory: 1.Michael Theoklitos (gk), 2.Kevin Muscat (c), 6.Steve Pantelidis, 8.Fred, 9.Danny Allsopp, 10.Archie Thompson (13.Kristian Sarkies 90′), 12.Rodrigo Vargas, 14.Adrian Caceres (21.James Robinson 62′), 15.Adrian Leijer, 16.Simon Storey, 17.Grant Brebner (22.Leigh Broxham 59′)
Unused substitutes: 20.Eugene Galekovic (gk), 18.Alessandro
Adelaide United: 1.Daniel Beltrame (gk), 2.Richie Alagich (21.Jason Spagnuolo 70′), 4.Angelo Costanzo, 5.Michael Valkanis, 6.Ross Aloisi (c), 8.Carl Veart, 10.Fernando (25.Bruce Djite 59′), 12.Greg Owens (14.Aaron Goulding 46′), 13.Travis Dodd, 15.Nathan Burns, 26.Diego Walsh
Unused substitutes: 20.Robert Bajic (gk), 3.Kristian Rees
Yellow cards: Ross Aloisi 22’/34′, Angelo Costanzo 57′, Michael Valkanis 57′, Fred 64′, Carl Veart 68′
Red cards: Ross Aloisi 34′
Referee: Mark Shield