War and Peace (and A-League) – Elimination Finals

 

 

MELBOURNE CITY 2 (Mauk 59 Fitzgerald 91)BRISBANE ROAR 0

 

Melbourne City are in to their third semi final in four seasons after a routine win over the Brisbane Roar in their elimination final.

 

While it took a while for city to finally break down John Aloisi’s men they had an early chance when Dario Vidosic had his shot palmed away by Jamie Young after the Roar defence found themselves immersed in treacle. Then after this Daniel Azani and Osama Malik also had chances as the Roar held firm against a marauding City side.

 

A basic error would be the undoing of Roar around the hour mark though. Jack Hignet was harried by City captain Bruno Fornaroli in a corner and made a mistake coughing up the ball which the Uruguayan squared to Mauk to finish off. A more than deserved lead. Roar should have at least tried to spark something but looked every inch of a club that had played out of its skin just to make the finals.

 

With minutes to go Vidosic set up Nick Fitzgerald to finally put the game beyond the Roar and set up a clash with the Jets in the Hunter next weekend. A heartening performance for City.

 

MELBOURNE VICTORY 2 (George 63 Berisha 89) ADELAIDE UNTIED 1 (Mileusnic 57)

 

Arch rivals Victory and United squared off in the other elimination final and again delivered another pulsating game that was (again) won by the Victory when it mattered.

 

In front of a disappointing but vocal crowd the game was on a knife edge for a full 90 minutes. United were the more settled side knocking the ball about with zero stuffs given as Victory looked more nervous and pensive, second guessing themselves. It was United who had the chances too with Ersan Gulum heading wide and Nikola Mileusnic forcing Lawrence Thomas into a save. The biggest chance in the half came to Leroy George who was put through on goal by Kosta Barabrouses but a brilliant last ditch tackle from Ben Garrucio saved United.

 

Victory looked to have a bit more zip to them in the second half but Mileusnic was still a constant threat on the break for United. On 57 minutes a quickly played free kick by the Reds captain Isais put the young striker through and he was able to toe poke the ball past Thomas to send the small band of reds in the corner of AAMI Park in to spasms of delight.

 

The lead would last all of six minutes though when Barbarouses used his burst of pace to skip past two defenders and square the ball to George who lashed the ball home. From here Victory had their tails up and were looking the more likely to score with United now mentally unravelling after conceding the lead. Besart Berisha, so often a difference in big games, had one opportunity denied by Paul Izzo but the second time he made it count. Berisha’s spectacular overhead finish from a Barbarouses cross in the final minute gave Victory the win in amazing fashion. The mad Albanian delivered again and on the anniversary of his controversial last minute winner in the 2012 Grand Final for the Roar.

 

Victory now go on to face the almost unstoppable Sydney FC while the Reds aim to hang on to their coach and build for next season.

 

SACRED COW OF THE ROUND – The A-League ‘dunny seat’ ads and Fahid Ben Khalfallah. 

 

It’s rare the FFA get praised but the ad for the A-League finals is a breath of fresh air paying homage to one of the more unusual trophies in a national competition. All hail the golden dunny seat!

 

Fahid Ben Khalfallah has also decided to retire from football following Roar’s defeat to City. The Tunisian International played to the highest level in France for years before coming to Australia where he was a star at Melbourne Victory and was part of their title winning side in 2015 and clearly enjoying his time in Australia with his young family. He also decided to retire to allow Roar to blood new talent rather than take another spot on the roster and a paycheque.

 

One of the better international players to come to these shores and a credit to the league.

 

CLOWN OF THE ROUND – Finals scheduling.  

 

With both games at AAMI Park and no rugby scheduled for the weekend the two games could have been scheduled at more friendly times and not head to head with footy. A Sunday evening game (much like last year) along with $75 ticket prices saw many empty seats at the Victory final against an arch rival. All but one A-League Grand Final has sold out in the 12 previous seasons, good chance it’ll be a second in a couple of weeks.

 

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT WEEK 

 

The semi finals are here with the four teams that should be there taking part. The more intriguing game will be in the Hunter when the Jets take on City. Last time the two met there City ran the Jets ragged winning 3-0. A big crowd should be there to see the Jets try and qualify for their first Grand Final in 10 years.

 

The other semi sees another ‘big blue’ with Sydney FC hosting Victory. With Victory unable to get a point off Sydney during the regular season it’ll take some minor miracle to get past them in a semi final. Stranger things have happened and there is the wildcard of good ol’ VAR.

 

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

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