MELBOURNE VICTORY have claimed a second FFA Cup title, after they defeated the Central Coast Mariners in a thrilling 2-1 final on Saturday night at AAMI Park. After a goalless first half, the game sprung to life in the second half, with Victory creating several chances.
In the 49th minute, Nick D’Agostino was fouled in the penalty area after being brought down. The referee paid a penalty much to the delight of the Victory fans, only for the decision to be overruled by VAR for offside.
The incredible breakthrough and decisive moment came in the 70th minute, when Marco Rojas was brought down just outside the box. Up stepped Jason Davidson who struck an astonishing free kick into the top right corner. Breaking the deadlock and sending AAMI park into raptures.
In the 94th minute, the cup final was all but decided with a stunning strike from the edge of the box from Chris Ikonomidis. He received a long ball, chested it down to his advantage and struck the final blow. Sending thousands of Victory supporters behind the goal into jubilation, as hundreds of them (illegally) jumped over the fence onto the field behind the goal to celebrate with the players.
A goal for the Central Coast, by Oliver Bozanic in the 96th minute would provide little more than consolation. Just a minute later the referee blew the final whistle, as the Melbourne Victory claimed a well earned second FFA Cup title.
The final whistle brought jubilation around AAMI Park. It was just reward for Tony Popovich who has been incredible in taking a side from a wooden spoon finish in 2021, to winning the clubs first piece of silverware since 2018, and first FFA cup title since 2015. His recruiting has been exceptional, along with a very attacking style game plan, which has been winning games for his side.
Jake Brimmer tied with Central Coast defender Kye Rowles for the Mark Viduka medal, for the best on ground performances. This win is a massive stepping stone for the Melbourne Victory, they now will have the confidence that they can continue winning form in the A-league and challenge for the title not only this season, but for many years to come under Popovich.
One thing’s for sure, it has been an incredible turnaround of form in a relatively short time. But the Melbourne Victory are deserved FFA Cup champions in 2022.