Besart Berisha celebrates reaching the A-League grand final aftera 1-0 win over Brisbane Roar.
Besart Berisha celebrates reaching the A-League grand final aftera 1-0 win over Brisbane Roar. JULIAN SMITH

Final Big Blue after Berisha seals Victory win

IT is the grand final everyone has been waiting for.

Melbourne Victory has advanced to a grand final date with Sydney FC on Sunday after overcoming Brisbane Roar 1-0 in its semi-final at AAMI Park last night.

But it wasn't without nerves for the hosts, who will now head in to the Allanz Stadium clash with the Sky Blues as huge underdogs seeking a fourth A-League championship.

As he so often is in the big games, Besart Berisha was the hero for Victory, scoring the decisive 70th minute goal that sent his side through at the expense of his former team.

The Roar gave as good as they got in an extremely competitive showing at a ground they have had minimal success at over the years, but ultimately Victory carved out the better of the chances and were a deserved victor.

Kevin Muscat's men enjoyed 53 per cent of possession and had five shots on target to two, as John Aloisi's side predominantly sat back to absorb pressure before trying to hit their opponents on the break.

Roar goalkeeper Jamie Young, already in the wars after suffering a nasty gash to the arm in a bizarre mishap in an Asian Champions League game in Thailand last week, was shaping as the story of the night.

He was on hand to deny each of Leigh Broxham, James Troisi and Marco Rojas - brilliantly so - in the first 65 minutes.

But Young, who also copped a heavy knock to the head from Broxham in the first half, could not deny Berisha's expert header 20 minutes from the end of regulation time.

With the ball stationed on the left flank, Fahid Ben Khalfallah stepped inside to deliver a pinpoint cross in to the box, with Luke De Vere and Corey Brown unable to quell Berisha's aerial threat - the Albanian scoring his 53rd goal in Victory colours.

The atmosphere in the stadium was electric after Berisha scored, but it was a stark contrast to the mood among the majority of the 20,202 crowd some 25 minutes earlier, as a nervous air descended over the ground following an edgy first half.

Victory held sway for the first 30 minutes or so, but, unable to turn their dominance in to goals, Brisbane grew in confidence as the half went on.

It's not uncommon for Victory to lose its way if it doesn't find the scoreboard early on and so, when the Roar started the second stanza the brighter of the two teams, Victory fans could have been forgiven for worrying they may have been watching a disaster unfold.

Relief didn't come instantly, but it did come eventually and, as was the case in the 2014-15 grand final at the same ground, it was Berisha who was the scorer of the opener.

Brisbane had given their former marksman two golden opportunities in the first 10 minutes that he couldn't take.

But it was third time lucky in the end.

And Victory will be hoping it's a case of fourth time lucky on Sunday when it seeks to overcome a 0-3 record against Sydney this season.

News Corp Australia


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