April 27, 2015 11:52:39 UK
Melbourne Victory rounded off the A-League regular season in style as they secured the Premier’s Plate with a 3-1 home win over Central Coast Mariners.
Kevin Muscat’s side claimed their third premiership, their first in six years, in front of more than 22,000 fans at AAMI Park. Victory are 2.37 to win the Grand Final.
Sydney FC’s 2-1 victory over Wellington Phoenix earlier in the day meant Victory kicked off knowing that, barring an unthinkable seven-goal defeat to the Mariners, they would be crowned premiers at full-time.
Wellington are 2.00 to win their elimination final against Melbourne City, who are 3.50.
It was fitting that all-time A-League record scorer Archie Thompson would get on the scoresheet, and even more so that their final regular season goal would come from Besart Berisha.
It was Berisha’s signing from Brisbane Roar, where he had won two championships, that many pundits saw as key to Victory’s chances of success this season and he has not disappointed.
The Albanian striker scored his 13th goal of the campaign to finish joint-second in the Golden Boot award.
Berisha set up Daniel Georgievski for the first goal on 32 minutes, holding off two defenders before laying the ball off to the left-back. Georgievski hit a sweet shot over goalkeeper Matthew Nash into the far corner of the net.
It was 2-0 just two minutes later when Gui Finkler’s corner found Thompson unmarked in front of the near post and his glancing header beat Nash.
The Mariners, keen to take something out of what was retiring skipper John Hutchinson and departing striker Matt Simon’s final game, pulled a goal back just before the break.
Eddy Bosnar’s pile-driver free-kick smashed into the face of Georgievski in the wall and deflected past the wrong-footed Lawrence Thomas.
Berisha’s goal finished off an excellent team move that involved Thompson and Finkler before Mark Milligan took the ball around Nash and teed up Berisha to fire home between the legs of two covering defenders.
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