- Berisha hits winner at AAMI Park after Cahill opener
- Victory leapfrog City to go into second place on ladder
It was all shaping up to be another Tim Cahill fairytale, but in the end it was an A-League stalwart who grabbed the glory – and a place in the record books. It’s only a matter of time before Besart Berisha makes that all-time goalscoring record his own, and he’ll no doubt pass triple figures at some stage too, but for now he’ll be happy with deservedly firing his team into second place on the ladder.
The game itself wasn’t always pretty, and the foul count seemed in danger of going through the AAMI Park roof at one stage, but there’s no denying the excitement and passion on show from both teams tonight made for a gripping contest. It came down to tactics in the end, with Victory’s incision and ability to create clear chances proving the difference. For all their huff and puff, City only looked dangerous when they pumped deep balls towards Cahill – whereas Victory had several clear cut shots on goal.
It’s all over, Victory claim the bragging rights at the third time of asking this season. It’ll taste all the sweeter as a result.
90+3 mins: Last chance for City. Free-kick into the box… but Thomas charges off his line to claim it.
90+2mins: Georgieviski comes on for Berisha. No record today, but he’s one step closer. The sub almost scores straight away. He’s causing all sorts of trouble. Time ticking away.
90 mins: Pressure building from City. Kilkeny with a volley that’s deflected wide for another corner. Victory hoof it away to safety. Four minutes of injury time.
89 mins: The clock is running down for City. Cahill with a last-minute header? He’s looked their most dangerous player in front of goal. Late corner.
86 mins: Troisi denied from close range. That would have been game over. As it is, City are still in it, but despite plenty of possession they haven’t troubled Thomas too much. Victory on the verge of going second with a game in hand.
84 mins: Do Victory deserve to be ahead? Possibly. They’ve defended solidly and had the better chances. Rojas comes off for Beister. The Kiwi has done well to last so long and played a huge part in Victory’s performance.
81 mins: Kamua comes off for Fitzgerald as City chase the game. Berisha looks rejuvenated. He wants that goalscoring record all to himself.
78 mins: Berisha! The striker fires into an empty net as Bouzanis tries to shut down the cut-back from Rojas. He doesn’t get there in time and Berisha smashes home. Very, very close to being offiside though – could have gone either way.
76 mins: Ingham so close to putting Victory in front after being fed through by Troisi. Bouzanis “makes himself big” and blocks the shot. Good work from the keeper.
74 mins: Both sides desperate to find the winner but it might be a case of who’s got the legs for it. The intensity and pace of the game has sapped a lot of energy but neither side is willing to take their foot off the gas. City on top at the minute.
72 mins: More niggly fouls, this time Kamua gives one away. There’s been 30 fouls so far, and with more than a few tired legs out there that figure is going to keep climbing higher and higher.
69 mins: Brattan is struggling for City. He got a knock in the first half but he’s still waving away calls from the bench. Colazo goes in the book for whacking the ball into the stands after Victory win a free-kick in dangerous territory. Rojas takes it but it fails to trouble Bouzanis.
67 mins: Right, can we get back to some football please? All this posturing is getting boring. Brandan has visions of glory as he charges down the left flank and blasts the ball goalwards from distance… but it sails miles over. Much hilarity among the Victory faithful.
65 mins: Yet more push and shove after a foul throw from Franjic and a foul by Troisi. The referee calms things down, but there’s a permanent crackle in the air. It’s only going to take one spark.
64 mins: Donachie renters the fray after having his face taped up for a boot to the face. There’s no polite way of saying this, he looks like the elephant man.
63 mins: Cahill with another header that goes inches wide. So close. He seems to levitate every time he gets near it.
62 mins: Rose comes off for Muscat. Hopefully the delay takes away some of the heat that’s been building the last few minutes.
59 mins: Dear oh dear. More handbags. Geria goes in the book for a shove on Brandan, who flies to the ground. Teammates get involved and soon Berisha and Fornaroli are in the book too. Tensions in danger of bubbling over.
56 mins: Handbags time. It was always going to happen at some stage. Bouzanis pushes and shoves with Berisha and Donachie. The referee sensibly waits for it to peter out and the game resumes.
55 mins: Victory getting back into it now. Successive corners give the City defence something to think about, but Bouzanis comes out confidently to claim the ball and stop the danger.
54 mins: Kalfallah with a charge down the left wing to relieve some of the pressure on Victory. His eventual cross is easily blocked but at least it buys the visitors some breathing space. Not for long though. City go straight up the other end and win a corner… but it comes to nothing.
52 mins: Oooo, close. Fornaroli with a great opportunity – but he fluffs it, volleying over at close range after a great knock back from Franjic. City asking all the questions.
49 mins: It’s been all City so far this half, although they’ve not really troubled the Victory net. A deep ball towards Tim Cahill might change that.
47 mins: A low inswinger causes some confusion in the Victory defence but they eventually hoof it away. Can both sides maintain the tempo of the first half? It was exciting stuff, if not exactly pretty at times. City still making the early running.
We’re back, and there’s been no change of personnel during the break. City on the attack early and win a free-kick on the right-hand side of the box for their troubles.
Brandan with the final touch of the half … and it’s very close to a goal, skidding inches wide of Thomas’ net. All square as we go into the break. Catch you in 15 mins.
45+1 mins: Cahill goes into the book much to the delight of the Victory fans. Bit of argy bargy while chasing the ball after the whistle. One more mistimed tackle and he could be in serious trouble.
45 mins: Lovely stuff from Fornaroli, taking a couple of touches under pressure to control a bouncing ball on the edge of the area, then unleashing a powerful shot straight at Thomas. A few inches either side of the keeper would have seriously troubled him. That might be the last chance of the half.
43 mins: The free-kick into the box comes to nothing, but every time a high ball falls within a 2m radius of Cahill’s head there’s a crackle of tension in the air. It’s just out of his range this time.
42 mins: City with a bit of possession, but Victory are defending tenaciously – a little too tenaciously in some cases. Fornaroli is brought down and City win a free-kick on the far right of the box.
39 mins: Victory finishing the half strongly, and if Berisha had his shooting boots on they could be a couple of goals clear by now. Muscat will be happy with how his side have dealt with that Cahill goal. All the best chances have fallen to them since then, some of them gift-wrapped by City.
37 mins: Franjic goes in the book for what could be generously called a full-blooded challenge on Khalfallah. Surprisingly few bookings so far – plenty of fouls, but nothing too serious. The referee has handled things well.
35 mins: Frenetic. It’s a word that gets used far too often to describe football games but it fits this one perfectly. Rojas creates some space with a few stepovers, but his final shot goes straight down the keeper’s throat. Seconds later, Berisha gets another chance but he goes to ground under pressure. No penalty claims, but he was very close to getting a shot away. Tongyik walking a fine line in the heart of the City defence.
32 mins: Thomas is far too casual with a pass back and almost – allllmost – gets caught in possession by Brandan. Risky stuff.
29 mins: Brandan does his now traditional three-turn roll on the floor after the slightest of touches, prompting more boos from an already tense crowd. End to end stuff at the minute, City look more dangerous up front but their defence doesn’t exactly inspire.
26 mins: Berisha should have made it two! He could have the goalscoring record in his pocket by now – the Albanian had all the time in the world after a ball over the top, but stroked it straight to Bouzanis.
24 mins: Rojas marks his return in style! Poor defending from Tongyik, failing to clear with a head then fluffing the follow-up. It lands with Rojas, who curls home. All square.
23 mins: Victory have responded well since the goal, harrying City all over the park. Rojas charges forward but his final through-ball is cut out before it can reach Fornaroli. Bouzanis is seeing more of the ball now.
21 mins: It’s all about Cahill at the minute. He’s been escorted off after getting another knock to the head. Play continues but he’s eager to get back on. No lasting damage.
19 mins: Now Cahill – who’s sporting a bandaged head after some overzealous celebrating – gets a stern talking to from referee Gillett after a strong challenge after the whistle had gone. Lucky not to get booked. Victory fans were braying.
17 mins: Cahill! It had to be. And surprise, surprise it’s a header. A deep corner to the back stick, Cahill muscles out two Victory players and nods it into the net. Textbook Timmy.
14 mins: Much better work from Bouzanis after being given a hospital pass under pressure. He calmly plays it out and the danger clears. City just shading it at the minute but not by much.
12 mins: Poor corner from Brattan… much to the delight of the Victory fans.
11 mins: Berisha gives away a foul after chopping down Brattan. A few niggly tackles from both teams, Fornaroli is bundled over by two Victory players to give City a free-kick 40 yards out. It doesn’t come to anything, but Victory struggle to clear and it leads to a spell of pressure form City. Corner for the hosts.
8 mins: It’s been more of an arm-wrestle than a blood-and-guts battle so far. Both sides trying to stomp some dominance on things but perhaps guilty of being a little over eager in the hunt for an early goal. A few stray passes all over the park.
6 mins: Berisha scuffs a clear chance after being put clean through. Poor finish – very unusual for Berisha. Touch of nerves perhaps? Would be unlike him but it happens to even the best players.
4 mins: Bouzanis has already made two slightly dodgy clearances. Not a great sign, especially in light of what happened to the Jets goalkeeper last night. What a howler that was. Berisha takes a shot that strikes Tongyik’s arm. Not much the young defender could have done about that, no penalty.
3 mins: Brattan whips in the corner but he can’t get it past the first defender and Victory are safe.
Peeeeeep! Referee Jarred Gillett blows his whistle and we’re off. An early scuff from Bouzanis gives Victory a throw-in but they give it back immediately. City making the early running. Brandan earns an early corner with some trickery down the left.
A big roar as the players finally file out to the strains of Fatboy Slim. Scarves aloft all around AAMI Park.
Not long to go now. How will City’s defence cope without their best defender? Berisha must be licking his lips. Must admit I fancied City to nick it before the team sheets came out. Now I’m erring towards Victory. That’s enough fence-sitting from me for now anyway. The players are just about to run out.
The team sheets are in and the big news is Jakobsen is missing for City, with early reports suggesting it’s due to a calf strain. That’s a big blow. The silver lining is Fernando Brandan has recovered from that horrific eye gouge he suffered at the hands of Rhyan Grant last week. What a trooper. As expected, Rojas is back for Victory.
Melbourne City: Dean Bouzanis (GK), Josh Rose, Ivan Franjic, Neil Kilkenny, Ruon Tongyik, Nicolas Colazo, Bruce Kamau, Tim Cahill, Bruno Fornaroli (c), Luke Brattan, Fernando Brandan
Melbourne Victory: Lawrence Thomas (GK), Jason Geria, James Donachie, Alan Baro, Leigh Broxham, Oliver Bozanic, James Troisi, Carl Valeri (c), Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Besart Berisha, Marco Rojas.
Berisha isn’t the only striker on the pitch who can single-handedly turn a game – Bruno Fornaroli is more than capable of grabbing the headlines tonight, and not just because he likes dropping the F-bomb on national telly. Victory fans are all too aware of what the foul-mouthed forward is capable of, having scored four goals in as many derby games. Tough to pick out the best but this one was pretty special.
The other talking point this week has been Besart Berisha, and if/when everyone’s favourite
cranky Kosovan will pass Archie Thompson’s A-League goalscoring record. After single-handedly ripping apart the Wanderers last week, you wouldn’t put it past him bagging a brace this weekend to take his tally to 91.
Whatever your view on booing, I’m not quite sure what Cahill hoped to achieve by having a moan about it. He’s guaranteed to cop a load more today as a result. On the flip side, Cahill has a happy knack of rising to the occasion, so if he does get a lot of flak expect him to save a penalty with his head or something.
Speaking of which, I’ll never miss an opportunity to plug a David Squires cartoon … but seeing as I’ve already been beaten to it (on my own blog no less), I’ll just provide a simple hyperlink to his take on the Cahill booing saga. The Simpsons reference took me back to the episode where “Timmy”
is trapped down a well and claims he was turned away from school because of his shabby clothes – cue a round of booing from the crowd. Principal Skinner feels your pain Mr Cahill.
Evening everyone, thanks for joining me for the pick of this weekend’s games as two bitter city rivals fight for the right to be recognised as Sydney’s main challengers at the top of the A-League table. It’s the football equivalent of two siblings scrapping over who gets the top bunk, only to discover Graham Arnold is already up there, snoozing away and occasionally mumbling “Tasmania United” in his sleep.
With Sydney facing a tricky assignment in Perth shortly after this clash, it’s the perfect chance to pinch Arnold’s nose and put a little bit of pressure on the leaders before they kick-off. The question is who’ll seize the initiative?
Richard will be here shortly but in the meantime, check out the latest from David Squires.
Related: David Squires on … booing Tim Cahill and Santa’s A-League naughty list