Australian fans may have just witnessed the most thrilling
Melbourne Derby yet.
The Melbourne derby has established itself as a day which divides
the city of Melbourne in two. Fans gather well before the game, to prepare
themselves for a war between two rivals.
Tonight’s battle lived up to its expectations.
Victory and City both fronted the pitch in good form, with
Vic goalkeeper Danny Vukovic celebrating a record 229th A-League
appearance and City goalkeeper Thomas Sørensen making the most saves in round
Melbourne Victory were first to
charge out of the blocks early, forcing City keeper Sørensen to come way off
his line to clear Berisha’s early shot in the first minute.
City struggled to contain the dangerous
combination of Oliver Bozanic and Ben Khalfallah through the guts of the midfield.
Victory provided a constant threat on the break, expending the pace of Georgievski
and Barbarouses on the right hand side. City’s lack of pace in the midfield paid dividends
for Victory, as Khalfallah broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute.
The Tunisian attacking midfielder’s miss hit shot deflected off Retre into goal,
sending the home fans into hysteria.
Aaron Mooy looked like a lone ranger in the midfield, with
no support in the final third of the field.
Things went from bad to worse in the second half for City,
as Khalfallah provided a well weighted cross for Barbarouses, who headed home
the second goal for Victory.
It looked all but over, but of course it wouldn’t be a derby
without late drama.
Socceroo international Aaron Mooy sparked the resurgence
which almost ignited one of the greatest comebacks the Melbourne Derby has seen
Mooy’s dominating presence in the midfield changed the momentum
of the game, linking up with Uruguayan Bruno Fornaroli and super sub Steve
Kuzmanovski. Proclaimed as El Tuna back at home, Fornaroli wriggled past Delpierre before scoring with a humiliating nutmeg on Vukovic.
The shift in momentum left the Victory players flat, as Mooy
continued to show his class in the midfield.
Three minutes is all it took for City to score again with
the equalizer. Mooy played a long ‘Beckham like’ ball finding the feet of substitute
Stefan Mauk. The youngster was as relaxed as a billionaire in a holiday resort,
calmly sliding the ball past the Victory goalkeeper.
They say a two goal lead is the most dangerous in football,
and it proved to be the case once again.
The last twenty minutes saw desperation from both teams, in
attempt to steal all three points.
The amazing atmosphere from the crowd of 40,217 people rose
in decibels as the game drew closer to an end.
Referee Jarred Gillett stood firm at the games
conclusion, waving away penalty appeals for both teams.
The game was never going to end in a draw, and the winner
came for Victory in the 88th minute.
Who else but Besart Berisha.
The Albanian striker was quiet for most of the game, but
notoriously popped up to score another famous derby goal for Melbourne Victory.
Victory fans once again boast bragging rights, as City
manager John van ‘t Schip’s men go back to the drawing board for next week’s
clash against Perth Glory.
By Ari Charilaou (He’s also on twitter here). Imagery: Aleks Jason / TURF and FAN CAM