Victory books Grand Final berth

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Melbourne Victory have book their place in the 2015 A-League Grand Final with a clinical 3-0 win over cross-town rivals Melbourne City at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

First half goals to Besart Berisha and Kosta Barbarouses before Archie Thompson sealed the deal four minutes from time ensured the Victory would host this year’s decider.

The hype leading up to this game was at a level unseen for a game in Melbourne previously with an expectation of a classic encounter between two fierce foes.

Sadly that wasn’t the reality in a largely lacklustre match that Victory got the better of.

City weren’t without their chances throughout the match but their stars failed to shine when it mattered most.

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On the other hand, the Victory were their ruthless selves as they took all three chances afforded to them.

In the end that was the difference.

The endeavour was there for City throughout the contest but it appeared as though their Grand Final came and went last weekend. This was just a bridge too far.

A heavy travel load that has seen them face Wellington, Adelaide and Perth all in a row didn’t help their cause either.

Victory showed their freshness from the start as they jumped out of the blocks the better unit.

They converted that to scoreboard action in just the 19th minute when Berisha opened the scoring.

The man for a big occasion, Berisha scored his fifth goal in three derby games at this venue courtesy of a Leigh Broxham ball and some very questionable defending by City.

Berisha was given a criminally-large amount of space right in front of goal to head Victory to the lead.

The advantage doubled just minutes shy of the half-hour mark when again questionable City defending was the culprit.

Victory did do well to cut open City with smooth passing but their marking made the goal possible.

Gui Finkler sent the ball to Fahid Ben Kallfallah who picked out an unmarked Barbarouses to finish with a tidy volley to make it 2-0.

To City’s credit, they did attempt to take the game to Victory but their endeavour was much better than their conviction.

To make their cause even harder, City were forced to use all three subs against their will as Aaron Mooy, Harry Novillo and David Williams succumb to injuries.

All this transpired against City much to the delight of Victory and their faithful.

Victory finally finished off a gallant City in the 87th minute when Thompson rubber stamped his side’s progression.

Despite City’s best efforts, class prevailed; Victory finished 18 points ahead on their rivals on the table and every one of those points were on show tonight.

In the clutch moments of the game when the match was on the line, Victory made it count, the sign of a true champion team.

Victory now play the waiting game for the next 24 hours as they eagerly await the winner of the other semi-final between Sydney FC and Adelaide United next Sunday at AAMI Park.

Regardless of the result in Sydney, Victory will take on another arch-nemesis in their campaign to return to the summit of Australian football. Another mouth-watering prospect for all football fans to savour.

Melbourne Victory starting XI: 20. Lawrence THOMAS(GK), 4. Nick ANSELL, 5. Mark MILLIGAN(C), 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 7. Gui FINKLER, 8. Besart BERISHA, 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 14, Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15. Daniel GEORIGEVSKI, 17. Mathieu DELPIERRE, 21. Carl VALERI

Melbourne Victory substitutes: 40. Michael TURNBALL, 10. Archie THOMPSON, 11. Connor PAIN, 16. Rashid MAHAZI, 2. Jason GERIA

Melbourne City starting XI: 20. Tando VELAPHI(GK), 4. Connor CHAPMAN, 5. Erik PAARTALU, 6. Aaron MOOY, 9. Harry NOVILLO, 10. Robi KOREN, 13. Jonatan GERMANO, 15. David WILLIAMS, 16. Josh KENNEDY, 24. Patrick KISNORBO, 27. Kew JAILENS

Melbourne City substitutes: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE(GK), 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 18. Paulo RETRE, 21. Stefan MAUK, 23. Mate DUGANDZIC

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