A superb diving save from Danny Vukovic to deny Marco Rojas followed by Milos Ninkovic’s Championship-winning penalty ensured a 4-2 shootout victory for Sydney FC and Grand Final heartbreak for Melbourne Victory.

The 41,546 strong crowd at Allianz Arena were treated to a bitter yet entertaining affair, with the two old rivals inseparable at 1-1 after 120 minutes – Besart Berisha and Rhyan Grant both grabbing goals in regular time.

The tone for the game was set in the first few seconds with a series of niggly challenges from both teams, but chances were few and far between in a testy opening period.

Sydney appeared to be gaining the upper hand with a number of dangerous crosses from Michael Zullo down the left flank, but it was Victory ace Besart Berisha who pounced on a rare defensive lapse from the Sky Blues to put the visitors in front after 20 minutes.

Berisha found himself in open space near the edge of the box, and the Kosovan made no mistake as he unleashed a low shot into the bottom right hand corner leaving Vukovic no chance.

Sydney came out of the sheds after half time looking much more like their usual selves, and it wasn’t long before they made their pressure count on the score sheet.

Victory failed to clear a ricocheting ball in the area and it was pounced upon by David Carney whose well-struck effort could only be met with a glancing hand from Lawrence Thomas – Grant hammering home the loose ball to level scores at 1-1.

With neither side looking likely to add to their respective tally’s the game appeared to be destined for extra-time, before a 94th minute penalty shout for the hosts gave hope to the home crowd of a last gasp win – but much to their displeasure Jarred Gillet waved away Alex Brosque’s pleas following a strong challenge on the Sydney captain in the box.

Chances were equally few and far between in extra-time, with Victory coming closest to grabbing the winner after 107 minutes when Troisi crashed a beautifully hit volley into the left hand post.

Troisi’s missed chance would prove costly for the visitors as the game headed to penalties and Sydney won the toss to line up in front of The Cove.

Comfortable strikes from Brosque and Troisi levelled the shootout at 1-1, when up stepped Alex Wilkinson whose shanked effort drifted well past Thomas’ goal in what seemed to be the defining moment of the affair and the downfall of Sydney’s season.

Leigh Broxham and Carney both converted to make it 2-2, but Carl Valeri’s effort into the crossbar, Brandon O’Neill’s conversion and Vukovic’s save off Rojas left the shootout 3-2 in Sydney’s favour and theirs to lose.

Up stepped the man of the moment Ninkovic, who calmly slotted his penalty away to ensure a famous 4-2 Grand Final victory for the Sky Blues and rapturous celebrations around Allianz Arena.

 

Sydney FC 1 (Grant 69’)
Melbourne Victory 1 (Berisha 20’)

Stadium: Allianz Stadium
Crowd: 41,546

Referee: Jarred Gillett
Assistant Referees: David Walsh and Matthew Cream
Fourth Official: Peter Green

Sydney FC 4. WILKINSON Alex, 5. BUIJS Jordy (22. RYALL Seb 115’), 6. BRILLANTE Joshua, 7. ZULLO Michael, 9. BOBO (18. SIMON Matt 81’), 10. NINKOVIC Milos, 13. O’NEILL Brandon, 14. BROSQUE Alex (C), 20. VUKOVIC Danny (GK), 21. HOLOSKO Filip (17. CARNEY David 59’), 23. GRANT Rhyan

Substitutes: 1. REDMAYNE Andrew (GK), 8. DIMITRIJEVIC Milos

Melbourne Victory 2 GERIA Jason, 5. GEORGIEVSKI Daniel, 6. BROXHAM Leigh, 7. ROJAS Marco, 8. BERISHA Besart, 10. TROISI James, 14. BEN KHALFALLAH Fahid (23. INGHAM Jai 101’), 15. BARO Alan, 17. DONACHIE James, 20. THOMAS Lawrence (GK), 21. VALERI Carl (C)

Substitutes: 4. ANSELL Nick, 11. AUSTIN Mitch, 16. MAHAZI Rashid, 40. ACTON Matt (GK)

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