A hat-trick from powerful forward Mirjan Pavlovic has helped guide Sydney United 58 FC to a place in the National Premier Leagues Final.
A hat-trick from powerful forward Mirjan Pavlovic has helped guide Sydney United 58 FC to a place in the National Premier Leagues Final following a 4-3 win over Olympic FC in Brisbane on Saturday night.
Former Australian Under 23 international Pavlovic scored twice in the second half to seal the win for the visitors after the teams were locked 2-2 at the end of a see-sawing opening stanza.
Jake McLean and Nick Efstathis netted for the hosts as they twice came from behind to level terms, however they were ultimately overrun by their stronger opponents in a physical but free-flowing encounter.
Despite going in to the match as underdogs, Olympic took a surprise lead in only the fifth minute of play when United defender Nathan Sherlock steered the ball into his own net after miscuing his clearance from Jai Ingham-s innocuous cross.
The goal spurred the Sydneysiders into action and they levelled terms only four minutes later when Japanese attacker Yuichi Yamayuchi finished off a series of neat passes inside Olympic-s penalty box with a solid strike from 12 yards.
Olympic captain Danny Byrne fashioned a shot on an acute angle from a breakaway before Pavlovic put United ahead in the 14th minute, beating his man with a deft nod and holding off a defender before poking the ball past Olympic shot-stopper Mario Aparicio on the second attempt.
Both goalkeepers were called on again midway through the half - Jake McLean-s shot deflecting off the shoulder of United custodian Paul Henderson before Aparicio extended himself to deny Mathew Bilic-s inswinging corner kick with a fingertip save.
The balance of play began to favour United approaching the half hour before Yamayuchi popped up again inside the box, the 28-year-old-s bursting 10-yard volley beyond the far post denied only by the crossbar.
With United looking the team most likely, Olympic struck against the run of play shortly after when Byrne picked out Jake McLean lurking near the penalty spot, the 20-year-old looping his header over Henderson who had stuttered off his line during the build-up.
The scores remained locked at the half, although Olympic were fortuitous not to concede a penalty as the opening stanza drew to a close when 21-year-old Efstathis appeared to bring down Pavlovic with his desperate last man lunge.
However, Pavlovic-s disappointment lasted only as long as the break as he restored United-s lead with his second goal of the night on 49 minutes - smacking home a volley from close range after being left too much room on the edge of the six yard box.
United increasingly took control as Luka Glavas provided headaches down the left channel for former Roar defender Matt Mundy in the Olympic backline, before Olympic again levelled terms when Efstathis delayed his run to meet Ingham-s 65th minute corner with a strong header.
Pavlovic spurned a gilt-edged chance three minutes later when he was left unmarked in the centre of the penalty area, heading well over the bar from barely five yards out; however, the imposing forward wouldn-t be denied his hat-trick twice, finishing assuredly from a neat cutback only minutes later.
Content to maintain their buffer, United saw some nervy moments in the final ten minutes - McLean-s strike cannoning off the crossbar to the disappointment of the parochial home crowd - however, tired legs ultimately put paid to another comeback for the hosts as they quizzically refused to utilise their under strength bench.
Sydney United 58 will now await the result of Sunday-s Semi-Final between Tasmania-s South Hobart FC and South Australia-s Campbelltown City to see who they will meet in next weekend-s NPL Final.
A venue for the NPL Final is yet to be determined.
FULL TIME RESULT - NPL SEMI FINAL
Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre, Brisbane Saturday, 5th October 2013 Olympic FC 3 (own goal 5-, Jake MCLEAN 37-, Nicholas EFSTATHIS 64-) Sydney United 58 FC (Yuichi YAMAYUCHI 9-, Mirjan PAVLOVIC 14- 49- 70-)
Official Attendance: 930
Teams: OLYMPIC FC 1. Mario APARICIO, 2. Matthew BYRNE, 5. Kazuya ITO, 6. Matt MUNDY, 7. Daniel CRACK, 8. Jack PETRIE, 9. Tim SMITS, 10. Daniel BYRNE (c), 12. Nick Efstathis, 14. Jai INGHAM, 18. Jake MCLEAN (Unused Subsitutes: 3. Joey FIELDS, 4. Buddy RAHMAN, 13. David BOWATER, 17. Ryan RODERICK, 23. Matthew LUGO (GK))
SYDNEY UNITED 58 FC 1. Paul HENDERSON, 3. Benjamin JURMAN, 4. Nathan SHERLOCK, 5. Calum O-CONNELL (23. Ante TOMIC 81-), 6. Mitchell STAMETELLIS, 7. MIrjan PAVLOVIC, 8. Yuichi YAMAYUCHI (9. Robert MILESKI 68-), 11. Luka GLAVAS, 18. Glen TRIFIRO, 19. Mathew BILIC, 20. HAYDAR Ibrahim (2. Mitchell SPEER 76-)
(Unused Substitues: 15. Anthony TOMELIC, 30. Jordan JENNINGS (GK))