Melbourne Victory’s Hyundai A-League title defence came to a shuddering halt on Sunday night as they crashed out of the finals with a humiliating 6-1 loss to Big Blue rivals Sydney FC.
Any loss against the Sky Blues never goes down well south of the border but this one is sure to hurt for some time.
Victory boss Kevin Muscat shoulder much of the responsibility for the heavy defeat but even he wouldn’t have seen this one coming.
Not only did the 6-1 scoreline equal the club’s biggest-ever defeat in the Hyundai A-League, it was only the second-ever time the Big V had conceded six goals in a match.
It’s sure to lead to plenty of soul-searching during the likely difficult post-mortem this week.
And making matters even worse for Victory, their club legend Archie Thompson even appeared on the Sunday Shootout program in a Sydney FC jersey due to a lost bet.
While it was heartache for Victory, the Sky Blues surged into their fifth Hyundai A-League Grand Final with easily their most clinical display of the campaign.
Steve Corica’s troops became just the second team to score six goals in a Hyundai A-League Finals Series match (joining Victory who beat Adelaide United 6-0 in the 2006 Grand Final) and also registering the second biggest win in finals history.
It was the club’s second-biggest win ever (behind the 7-1 drubbing Wellington Phoenix in 2013), while it was just the third time they have managed six goals in a game.
But it’s all about the decider now for Sydney FC, who have won two of the three meetings with Perth Glory this season.
In fact, Glory’s win in the other fixture during the 2018/19 regular season is the only time they have got a result against the Sky Blues in the last 11 meetings between the two clubs.
Sky Blues continue interesting runners-up trend
While the size of the win certainly came as a shock, perhaps Sydney FC’s progression to the Hyundai A-League Grand Final was always written in the stars.
Steve Corica’s side ended the regular season in second position, giving them the week off and the home Semi Final against Melbourne Victory.
And the 6-1 drubbing of their fierce rivals not only gave the Sky Blues revenge for defeat against Victory at the same stage last season but also maintained the phenomenal for side’s that finished second at the end of the regular season.
In all 14 seasons of the Hyundai A-League, the team that has ended up second on the ladder has always gone on to reach the decider.
It’s worth noting though that in the previous 13 campaigns, only four times has the team that finished second ended up as the champions.
Can the Sky Blues be the fifth side come Sunday night?
Reddy’s Semi Final heroics go global
It was a performance that will go down as one of the greatest in Hyundai A-League Finals Series history.
Perth Glory gloveman Liam Reddy wrote himself in highlights reels for years to come for producing the goods to send his side into the decider by overcoming Adelaide United in a penalty shootout on Friday night.
The veteran shot-stopper not only saved four spot-kicks in the shootout, he also showed nerves of steel to bury his own attempts as Glory prevailed 5-4 on penalties.
“Why not? Can goalkeepers not take penalties?” a confident Reddy told Fox Sports afterwards.
“I’m a confident player and if it comes to it again I’ll take another one.
And it seems his stunning display didn’t go unnoticed, with world governing body FIFA recognising his outstanding individual display.