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Football

​Sydney Saved By The Red Right Hand of Danny Vukovic

There might have been some of Alex Wilkinson's blood still left on it but Sydney FC keeper, Danny Vukovic's red right-hand proved the saviour in a dramatic penalty shootout grand final win.

by Jed Smith
07 May 2017, 12:55pm

Sydney FC keeper, Danny Vukovic's right arm was at the centre of a dramatic grand final night in Sydney. First, when it collided with the head of his own defender, Alex Wilkinson, knocking him senseless, and second to deny the deciding penalty shot from Melbourne Victory's Marco Rojas in the shootout.

The grand final victory for Sydney FC was the cherry on top of a record breaking season in the A-League in which they went their first 19 games undefeated.

The win also broke a 3-nil grand final losing streak for both Vukovic and his victim, Alex Wilkinson. Vukovic's final penalty save was made extra poetic after Wilkinson moments earlier had his penalty shot stopped in the shootout in what looked to have cost Sydney victory.

"I don't know what I would have done if I had of lost a fourth (grand final)," Vukovic said after the match.

The shootout followed a tense and at times melodramatic final in which tensions boiled over several times, including a second half melee which saw Victory defender, James Donachie slapped in the face.

The best of the early opportunities fell to Melbourne Victory, in particular Kiwi international, Marco Rojas, who found himself one-on-one with keeper Vukovic on the edge of the five yard box only to deliver a poor cross rather than shoot. It what was the first of several crucial errors for the so-called 'Kiwi Messi.' Poor touches by Rojas in a series of key moments cost Victory along with a crucial offside call, before he had his shootout shot saved by Vukovic. He is still yet to score from the spot in the A-League from two attempts.

Still, it was Victory who opened the scoring. It came against the run of play as Sydney mounted the first concerted build up of pressure only for the ball to find leading Victory talisman, Besart Berisha in space. The Kosovan Great bamboozled the defence with a step-over before lancing a sublime left-foot strike back across Vukovic into the net.

The goal was the fourth time in a row Melbourne opened the scoring against Sydney this season, and the fourth time they've gone onto lose.

It was also Berisha's fourth goal in as many grand finals, adding the final touch to a season of goal scoring brilliance in which the three-time grand final winner collected the Golden Boot.

No team had ever come from behind at the break to win a grand final and Melbourne had only lost twice in the history of the club after taking the lead into half time.

It took none other than the man they call "Super" substitute, David Carney, to come on and equalise. The 33-year-old Sydney FC journeymen almost scored with his first touch before sending a stinging left strike from the edge of the box that forced Melbourne keeper, Lawrence Thomas to parry.

A dramatic scramble ensued in which Berisha somehow managed to get back and glance a header off his line from a seated position only to watch the ever-present Sydney FC defender Rhyan Grant swoop on the scraps and bury it.

With the game in extra-time, Victory striker, James Troisi came millimetres from stealing the win when he slammed the post with a volley.

Victory Defender Georgevski was lucky to say on the field after bringing down Sydney's David Carney on the edge of the box following another great touch from the the former Socceroo.

And finally the cruellest of crescendoes, the penalty shootout, where perhaps unsurprisingly it was a groggy Alex Wilkinson who missed for Sydney only for Melbourne Victory captain Christian Valeri to be denied by the woodwork and Marco Rojas by the red right hand of Danny Vukovic.