A trio of B’s makes it three for Victory

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Melbourne Victory has returned to the top echelon of of Australian football, becoming A-League champions for the third time as they defeated Sydney FC 3-0 in the 2015 Grand Final on Sunday.

Six years of disappointment, false dawns and let downs were alleviated in 90 classy minutes as Kevin Muscat’s men brushed a flat Sydney aside.

Victory prevailed in a gritty encounter in front of their adorning home fans with goals to Besart Berisha, Kosta Barbarouses and Leigh Broxham ensuring the silver toilet seat returns to Melbourne for the first time since 2009.

No even a late red card to midfielder Carl Valeri could temper the mood of the Victory faithful who basked in the glory.

It was an at times spiteful affair that more than fitted the bill of a grand final feast.

With two of the biggest clubs in the league facing off in the biggest game of the season, things were always set to be fierce.

Off the back of a stellar season in which they collected the Premiers Plate, the Victory were hot favourites for the title heading into the game.

After the regular season, these two sides finished first and second by a small points margin but it was clear to see which team deserved to be crowned champions at the end of the evening.

The opening stage of the match were heated as the nervous energy generated by the players spilled into rash tackles and words spoken.

As they game cooled, down it was the Victory who settled into the game the best.

As is the norm in games of high importance, quality shots on goal can be rare commodities and that proved to be the case this time as both keepers enjoyed quiet first halves.

The game took an expected turn for Sydney, who were forced into a defensive shift after Jaques Faty was taken off the field with a hamstring issue.

The unforced sub caused Sydney to severely change its defensive set which they clearly didn’t adapt to.

Amongst a sea of defensive pressure it, was the man for the big stage Berisha who broke through for the opener.

It was a miscued clearance by Nikola Petkovic that fell invitingly to Barbarouses who set it up for Gui Finkler and Berisha to work together, resulting in the ex-Brisbane man finishing expertly.

The second half took the same route as the first only for the Victory to amp up its defensive pressure. Sydney just couldn’t find a way through the resolute hold the Victory had on the game.

The Sky Blues’ best and only chance fell to sharpshooter Marc Janko, who found space for the only time in the game in the 75th minute but couldn’t get his header past Lawrence Thomas

The one time Victory failed to deal with a cross was close to being fatal as the Golden Boot winner uncharacteristically got his aerial work all wrong.

The match was sealed when Barbarouses and Broxham goaled in the dying stages of the game to put an emphatic exclamation mark on a stunning and drought-breaking season.

The day was a fitting finale to the 2014/15 season for the Victory who proved to be the premier side all season.

Whilst it was their attack that took the pundits throughout the season, it was a dogged defensive structure that ultimately secured the club its long-awaited return to the top.

It was almost as if faith intervened and ensured in the 10th year of the competition that it was the first two winners who would contest for the milestone title.

The A-League’s leading teams in its infancy may have fallen off the wagon in recent years but both are back where they not only want to be but expect to be.

A big 2015/16 season awaits for the Victory as they look to continue their recent trophy rush with the burden and expectation of being defending champions, plus the one mountain the club has yet to scale, the Asian Champions League.

But for now, it’s time to enjoy the moment and excel the frustrations of six trophy-less years and celebrate the spoils of a very successful season.

Melbourne Victory: Thomas, Broxham, Ansell (Geria 90+2’), Delpierre, Georgievski, Valeri, Milligan, Barbarouses, Finkler (Mahazi 87’), Ben Khalfallah, Berisha (Thompson 90+1’)

Sydney FC: Janjetovic, Ryall, Faty (Grant 19’), Jurman, Petkovic, Tavares (Antonis 75’), Dimitrijevic, Ibini, Brosque, Naumoff (Smeltz 53’), Janko

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