Besart Berisha wasn’t at his best throughout Melbourne Victory’s elimination final win against Adelaide United, however he typically made his impact on the game in the dying stages of the contest.

Victory’s marquee could’ve easily been substituted out of the match but head coach Kevin Muscat stuck by a man who knows all about the big games.

Berisha’s vast experience in the finals series for both Brisbane Roar and Victory would be a key reason as to why he was given close to 90 minutes to assert himself on the game, despite an underwhelming performance apart from the match-winning overhead kick.

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Muscat certainly prepared for the match to head into extra time and the way the match was going it was almost guaranteed. Before the 89th minute strike from Berisha, Muscat had yet to make a change while Reds coach Marco Kurz had used all three substitutes from the bench.

Muscat’s plan was a combination of keeping fresh legs ready for as long as possible and back the starting players that he had. He was confident to see how the elimination final played out before he wrought the changes – reaffirming the belief that Muscat has in Berisha and the rest of his teammates. The extensive rotation from the midweek dead rubber against Shanghai SIPG gave Berisha and fellow big names a full rest.

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“I really had a strong belief that the players out there would carve out an opportunity,” Muscat said.

“Besart didn’t have too many all night and with probably the most difficult chance he’s had in a long time he found an unbelievable finish.

“It was pleasing from that perspective and we were readying the subs because of the time in the game and then obviously if it was going into injury time, we wanted to make sure that they were well directed in terms of what they needed to do.”

Victory will look forward to facing a familiar foe when they meet Sydney FC in a Big Blue semi-final. A confidence boosting goal from Berisha should lift his spirits and become more of a danger man against the Sky Blues.

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Liam Watson is covering Melbourne Victory this season while completing Media and Communications at La Trobe University.