By his own admission, Paul Izzo owed his Adelaide United teammates a big performance.
Disappointed with his form throughout the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Season, the custodian was desperate to contribute for the Reds in a positive way.
And when it counted most, Izzo did just that as he helped the Reds edged past Melbourne City 1-0 in Sunday night’s Elimination Final.
Ben Halloran’s 119th-minute goal was the difference in the end but it as only possible due to Izzo’s heroics at the other end.
The 24-year-old made a brilliant save in normal time to tip a rasping drive by Riley McGree over the crossbar in one of the few chances during the 90 minutes.
But it was nothing compared to the world-class stop at full-stretch to tip Shayon Harrison’s goal-bound strike around the post just minutes before Halloran’s winner.
“It’s about time. It’s good to give the boys the help they need,” an honest Izzo told Fox Sports post-match.
“It’s been a tough year but I’m glad I did a performance like that tonight, especially in the finals.
“It’s been an unbelievable night. It’s taken us two years to beat Melbourne City and we finally [did it],” Izzo added.
“Everyone was dying in the end with cramps and everything, lucky we dug deep and got the result in the end.”
And the result means Adelaide move on to a Grand Final qualifier against premiers Perth Glory on Friday night at HBF Park.
With just a five-day turnaround between games, the Reds will need to recover quickly if they are to overcome a fresh Glory and qualify for their first decider since 2016.
“We’re not the favourites but we’re pretty keen to go over there and pull off one of the upset of the season,” Izzo declared.
“The pressure is on them [Glory]. They are at home in front of their crowd and we’re going there and going to embrace the opportunity.”