Victory luck turns after familiar derby feeling
IT took 102 days. But Melbourne Victory will say last night’s controversial late win over Melbourne City in a dramatic Etihad Stadium derby was karma for its loss in the FFA Cup semi-final last year.
Victory was staring down the barrel of a fourth straight loss having fallen behind 1-0 soon after Besart Berisha missed a 63rd-minute penalty.
But Berisha would still be in the centre of the action in the game’s two decisive moments when he equalised in the 84th minute and was around the scene of the crime for the goahead goal two minutes later.
The ball found the back of the net off the boot of Manny Muscat following brilliant lead-up work by Jason Geria.
Confusion reigned on the sidelines as the linesman raised his flag for offside.
Berisha was in an offside position, but after a lengthy consultation with his assistant, referee Chris Beath gave the goal, adjudging that Berisha was not interfering with play.
In the Cup semi, Luke Brattan scored from long range, the linesman raised his flag because Tim Cahill was in an offside position, but the referee allowed the goal to stand because he decided that Cahill was not interfering with goal- keeper Lawrence Thomas’ line of sight. City went on to win 2-0. The pressuring of the assistant referee last night was ugly.
It’s becoming all too common in the A-League and, no matter the frustration with the standards of officiating, it is a poor look from players who are meant to be role models.
City goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis, especially, needs to cool it in such circumstances.
He was right to cop a yellow card from Beath just weeks after he copped a serve from Central Coast coach Paul Okon for carrying on in a similar way.
The controversy ramped up even further when Cahill, who was preparing to come on to the field as a substitute, was also shown a red card for having a crack at the match officials in the aftermath to the controversial goal.
It was a staggering end to what had been, for the most part, a dour contest.
And when the two coaches did not shake hands post match it demonstrated the angst that exits between the two sides.
But the match was played out in front of a crowd that was posted as being 35,426.
It’s the first time in eight Etihad derbies that the crowd has dipped below 40,000.