Melbourne Victory have ended their trophy drought, taking out a 2-1 win against the Central Coast Mariners in the FFA Cup Final, with the Tony Popovic era at the Melbourne Victory off to an encouraging start.
The Victory started strong out of the gates, going close to breaking the deadlock inside the opening 10 minutes. Defender Jason Geria’s header from a corner was on target, only to have his shot saved by Mariner’s shot-stopper Mark Birighitti. Despite looking lively in the opening stages, the Victory wouldn’t look threatening for the remainder of the half.
The Mariners would have similar issues in the opening half as they too struggled to break through the opposition’s defence. Unable to get anything going from inside the penalty box, the Mariners would try their luck from range. Nicolai Muller and Marco Ureña creating the biggest opportunities for the Gosford outfit, with the duo shooting from outside the box to no avail, with each of their shots getting blocked.
Following a lacklustre scoreless opening half, the Victory started the second half brightly and looked to have been gifted a golden opportunity to score in the 50th minute, with D’Agostino being taken down by Mariners Moresche just inside the penalty box. It would be a lucky break for Central Coast, with referee Shaun Evans initial penalty call being reversed with D’Agostino called offside.
Jason Davidson would eventually score the opener in stunning style in the 70th minute. Having been awarded a freekick just outside the penalty box, Davidson would step up with his left footed shot into the top left corner finally beating Birighitti.
Substitute Christopher Ikonomidis would come off the bench, and score in stoppage time to seal the game. The Victory running out as 2-1 winners as Oliver Bozanic would score a consolation goal late in the piece, but it would be too little too late.
FROM WOODEN SPOONERS TO FFA CUP CHAMPIONS
Tony Popovic has claimed his first trophy of his Melbourne Victory coaching reign, with the FFA Cup win his first managerial honour since guiding the Perth Glory to the A-League Men’s premiership in the 2018-19 season.
Having inherited a side which finished bottom of the table in the league last season, he’s wasted little time turning the fortunes around of the club, guiding the Victory to FFA Cup Glory.
Having faced many hurdles in the cup on the way to championship glory, the win was a great reward for effort.
JASON DAVIDSON MAKES IT COUNT FROM RANGE
Having threatened to score with a flurry of attacking passages earlier in the second half, the Victory would finally find the back of the net in the 70th minute through fullback Jason Davidson.
Having been awarded a freekick from close range, Davidson would try his luck from the set-piece and would come up trumps, with his shot firing past Birighitti in the top left corner.
Having dominated most of the attacking play, the Victory would finally be rewarded for effort.
CHRIS IKONOMIDIS SEALS THE DEAL
Holding on to a 1-0 lead, Victory winger Chris Ikonomidis would seal the game in stoppage time.
Having been played in cleverly by Italian forward Francesco Margiotta with a great switch of play, Ikonomidis found himself in space wide and would take it to the edge of the box and find the bottom right corner to seal the game for the Victory.
Having come off the bench in the 74th minute replacing Ben Folami, Ikonomidis would provide a spark off the bench to help guide the Victory to championship glory.
FFA Cup Final, AAMI Park
Melbourne Victory – 2 (Jason Davidson, 70m, Chris Ikonomidis, 90+5m)
Central Coast Mariners – 1 (Oliver Bozanic, 90+7m)
How did the managers react?
Melbourne Victory: Tony Popovic
“It hasn’t all fully sunk it in yet [that we’ve won the FFA Cup], it helps when you have this type of support, the crowd was just amazing and really helped…I’m lucky to have a group of players that performed on the big stage tonight,” he said.
“I thought we played well, for a [cup] final we played well and controlled [the game] and dominated, and we needed two special goals to win and it was befitting of a final.
“Two wonderful goals and some great performance, so I’m delighted for everyone at the club.”
Central Coast Mariners: Nick Montgomery
“I look at the performance as very good, I didn’t think there was much in the game at, I don’t think they really tested us for 90 minutes.” he said.
“It’s been a tough journey to get here, super proud of the boys, just so proud of everybody in there, we got a lot of young players.
“It is what it is, it’s disappointing, but super proud of the boys, thought it was a great performance given the subs that come on had a good impact.”
Image Source: Melbourne Victory