Victory deserving of home final: Muscat
Posted on 04/25/20 7:46 PM
Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat says his side deserve their A-League home elimination berth.Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat says his team’s A-League home elimination final berth has been built on heart and hard work after a testing time for his players.
Victory secured a week one home final after coming from behind to score two late goals to beat Wellington 2-1 at AAMI Park, with rookie substitute striker Kenny Athiu heading home the winner.
With just one round to play, fifth-placed Adelaide (36 points) can’t catch Victory (41 points) after failing to upset ladder-leaders Sydney FC later on Sunday night.
That means Melbourne will host two elimination finals, with third-placed Melbourne City securing their berth on Saturday night.
Muscat said the Asian Champions League workload plus the loss of Socceroo Mark Milligan to Saudi club Al-Ahli and Jason Geria to Japan, as well as suspensions to Rhys Williams and Kosta Barbarouses, who sat out the Phonenix match, had made the going tough.
“We’ve worked hard for the home final – we’ve worked hard in the last seven or eight weeks to get to where we are at and I think the actions are a reflection of wanting to keep what we’ve got first of all, and keep chasing,” Muscat said.
“The squad after January became a hell of a lot thinner and the effort that that group has produced since that period has been nothing short of outstanding.”
Victory looked flat in the first half of the Wellington match following their 23-hour commute back from South Korea for their mid-week Asian Champions League match.
But their substitutions – Carl Valeri, Leroy George and Athiu – proved the difference with the goals coming in the 83rd and 87th minutes.
“Tonight was a tough night and the group showed an enormous amount of heart,” Muscat said.
“We kept thinking amongst ourselves, we get one and we will go on and once we did get one there was a real drive.
“When you look around the field people were exhausted all over the place so to find something to push you on it has to come from deep within and for the group to respond after we scored our first goal they way we did with the circumstances around everything, I’m so proud.”
Victory will finish off the season against Sydney FC, which will give them a measure of their title chances.