It was frenetic, spiteful and as entertaining as A-League football gets. The Melbourne City vs Melbourne Victory derby had plenty at stake and it didn't disappoint.
It was left to the man, the legend, Timmy Cahill to open the scoring in the 16th minute with a superb header struck from between two Victory defenders. He then managed to injure himself in the celebration after colliding with the opposition Victory substitutes as they were warming up on the sidelines.
The goal came against the run of play with Victory creating a number of golden opportunities early, including a sitter that fell to Albanian (turned Kosovo) striker, Besart Berisha. The 31 year old came into the derby one goal short of equalling the all-time A-League goal scoring record (set by former Victory forward, Archie Thompson). The milestone looked to be weighing on him as he fluffed a number of first half chances, though Victory coach Kevin Muscat would say after the game that the veteran striker never showed signs of caving in.
"I was speaking to him saying maintain composure, keep getting in goal scoring positions, and he simply said, I'll score in the second half. The self-belief that he's got is unmatched in anything I've seen in this country," he said .
When a defensive blunder from City handed Victory's Kiwi striker, Marco Rojas the ball on the edge of the six yard box, he picked their pockets to equal the scores. Tempers frayed on countless occasions over the next 60 minutes as a total of nine yellow cards were issued to both sides. At one point Melbourne Victory's assistant coach was banished to the grand stands for hurling abuse at officials. Victory defender James Donachie also copped a wild backheel to the face as he desperately headed the ball out of danger, leaving him with a pair of black eyes and a suspected broken nose.
Then who else but the bumbling Albanian, Besart Berisha, to erase all former misdeeds on the night with a 78th minute tap-in courtesy of a Rojas assist that should have been called back for offside. It was waved through nonetheless with Berisha equalling the all-time A-league goal scoring record of Archie Thompson. A milestone made all the more impressive by the fact the Albanian has played significantly less games than Thompson.
The derby win, Victory's first in four attempts, also sees them leapfrog City into second place on the ladder. Victory midfielder and man-of-the-match, James Troisi was quick to remind City players and fans what a win in the derby meant.
"For me we're the biggest team in the A-League, definitely the biggest team in Melbourne, and we showed that tonight," he said.