Melbourne Victory has secured its third A-League Championship after a dominant 3-0 win over Sydney FC at AAMI Park on Sunday evening.
A thunderous strike from Grand Final expert Besart Berisha just after the half hour mark gave Victory a deserved early lead, while two late goals to Kosta Barbarouses and Leigh Broxham sealed the trophy.
AAMI Park was bathed in sunshine as the two teams entered for battle and it was Victory that was on the front foot from the first whistle, applying pressure all over the park and never allowing Sydney to settle into the game.
The first chance of the game fell to Victory after ten minutes when Victory won the ball back in midfield, allowing Gui Finkler to play in Barbarouses, but his shot was well saved by Janjetovic.
The pendulum swung in Melbourne’s favour when Senegalese international defender Jacques Faty succumbed to a hamstring injury after 19 minutes, forcing Sydney to reshuffle an already-underfire defence that eventually broke fifteen minutes later, when Berisha scored.
A mistake from Serbian Nikola Petkovic allowed New Zealand international Barbarouses to whip the ball into the box, with Berisha taking the ball on the chest before swivelling and unleashing a thunderbolt that gave Vedran Janjetovic no chance and brought AAMI Park to life.
It was no less than Victory deserved after steamrolling Sydney in the first 45 minutes with almost 60% of possession, nullifying their main threats in Bernie Ibini and Alex Brosque.
Sydney were able to get a little more time on the ball in the final ten minutes of the first half and came close to equalising right on half time, with brilliant interplay between Marc Janko and Brosque seeing the latter force a fine save from Lawrence Thomas.
It was more of the same in the second half as Victory’s relentless pressure almost saw them add a second within two minutes of the restart, but Barbarouses’ shot deflected off the leg of Janjetovic to go out for a corner.
While Sydney were allowed more pressure in the second half, they struggled to make anything of it, with costly unforced errors plaguing the entire side as Victory held on to their slender 1-0 lead.
Marquee man Janko had a great chance to draw his side level with 15 minutes remaining, but hit his header straight at Thomas.
The killer blow was delivered six minutes from time, when Barbarouses pounced on a Sydney turnover and ran at the Sydney defence, before playing in Fahid Ben Khalfallah. The Tunisian international returned the favour by cutting the ball back for the lively Kiwi who saw his first effort saved by Janjetovic before pouncing on the rebound to finish coolly with the outside of his boot.
Melbourne added a third late on through Leigh Broxham, whose barnstorming run from midfield was found by Ben Khalfallah as he got in behind the Sydney defence to unleash a bullet that Janjetovic could do nothing about at the near post, putting the icing on the sweetest of cakes for the home side.