The Melbourne Victory have come from behind to beat the Perth Glory 2-1 after extra time thanks to a superb diving header from Archie Thompson.
After a Mark Milligan penalty had cancelled out Ryo Nagai’s opener in regular time, Thompson put the Victory in front with a sensational diving header from a magnificent Marco Rojas cross ending Perth’s season in extra time.
But the ten-men Glory – who lost Steve Pantelidis to two yellow cards – had their chances to knock out the Melburnians inside the 90, and before Milligan’s successful spot kick. However, Smeltz failed to put away a penalty of his own after butchering several early opportunities.
With the win, the Victory travel to Gosford next week to take on the Central Coast Mariners, while the Glory’s season is over.
The Glory capitalised on an early mistake from Victory ‘keeper Nathan Coe to take the lead after just 15 minutes.
Coe came out from Scott Jamieson’s cross, hesitated and couldn’t get to the ball, allowing Nagai to chest the ball into an empty net.
The Victory struggled immensely in the first-half as they found it hard to create chances as Perth got more numbers to help out in defence.
The Melburnians’ best chance was probably from Leigh Broxham who had a well-struck strike deflected wide from Josh Risdon.
Perth really could have added to their lead before the break as Matias Cordoba fired inches wide of Coe’s goal.
Victory coach Ange Postecoglou had to make a change and took off Jason Geria for Marcos Flores three minutes after the resumption. Broxham moved to right back with Flores joining Thompson in attack.
The Victory were much better after the break and started to muster chances.
Thompson’s cross almost landed in the corner of net, before Flores could only direct his header over the top.
The visitors through Smeltz – who just returned from a facial injury picked up on international duty – should have taken a crucial two-goal lead, but the Kiwi’s attempt was parried wide by Coe.
Ex-Victory defender Pantelidis was lucky to be still on the pitch after connecting with a high, studs-up-challenge on Thompson’s thigh. However, referee Jared Gillett only gave a yellow card.
Perth were still looking to finish off the Victorians, but the Western Australians couldn’t bury their chances as Smeltz butchered a Nagai pass over the crossbar.
Time was running out for the Victory and Postecoglou hoped Andrew Nabbout would provide the spark off the bench. Scott Galloway made way.
The game erupted with three minutes left as both sides were given penalties by Gillett.
Mark Milligan tripped Jamieson in the box, but Smeltz could only thunder his penalty off the crossbar with Coe beaten.
In a hectic couple of minutes, Gillett pointed to the spot in the 89th as Nabbout was dragged down by Pantelidis. Pantelidis then was given his marching orders after receiving his second yellow card.
Milligan then stepped up and slotted his penalty confidently into the bottom corner to make up for his earlier mistake.
Gillett then blew the whistle to end the 90, so the first Elimination Final went into extra time.
The Victory had the momentum and took just four minutes into extra time to gain the lead.
Milligan found Rojas down the right with a terrific ball, before the Kiwi’s inch-perfect cross was finished off by Thompson’s brilliant diving header.
Melbourne Victory XI: 5. Mark Milligan, 6. Leigh Broxham (21. Spase Dilevski 109’), 10. Archie Thompson, 11. Marco Rojas, 14. Billy Celeski, 23. Adrian Leijer, 30. Jason Geria (9. Marcos Flores 49’), 31. Scott Galloway (26. Andrew Nabbout 84’), 32. Connor Pain, 33. Daniel Mullen, 39. Nathan Coe
Unused Subs: 1. Tando Velaphi, 8. Jonathan Bru
Goals: Milligan 90+1’, Thompson 94’
Yellow Cards: Rojas 45+2’, Geria 48’, Broxham 53’, Celeski 71’, Leijer 75’
Perth Glory XI: 1. Danny Vukovic, 5. Steve Pantelidis, 7. Jacob Burns, 9. Shane Smeltz, 10. Liam Miller, 11. Adrian Zahra (8. Dean Heffernan 63’), 12. Ryo Nagai, 18. Matias Cordoba (14. Steven McGarry 97’), 19. Joshua Risdon, 21. Scott Jamieson, 23. Michael Thwaite
Unused Subs: 2. Jack Clisby, 23. Daniel De Silva, 30. Lewis Italiano
Goals: Nagai 15’
Yellow Cards: Jamieson 27’, Pantelidis 68’
Red Cards: Pantelidis 90+1’
MOTM: Billy Celeski
ATTENDANCE: 22, 902 at Etihad Stadium