Saturday, February 28, 2009

Melbourne Victory win A-League grand final

Melbourne Victory won the A-League grand final 1-0 against Adelaide United before a crowd of 53,273 spectators - including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd - at the Telstra Dome tonight.

Melbourne became the first team to win the A-League grand final for a second time.

The game was televised live to 85 million homes - overseas!

This is simply scandalous. Australian fans should have been able to watch the game on free-to-air TV, but it was only those with pay TV in this country who could watch it.

It was a match filled with drama and plenty of controversy.

Both sides had a player sent off - in controversial circumstances, referee Matthew Breeze having to consult his assistant on both occasions - and there was a second-half melee in the Adelaide goalmouth involving most of the players.

Adelaide had Cristiano sent off after just 10 minutes for an elbow on Roddy Vargas, which left the Victory player bloodied.

Adelaide were on the back foot then, but five minutes into the second half they suddenly threw everything at Melbourne and created two excellent scoring chances in the space of five minutes.

But, neither Scott Jamieson, from Matthew Mullen's cross, nor captain Travis Dodd, after an amazing dribble, was able to beat Melbourne keeper Michael Theoklitos.

Melbourne took the lead on the hour when Tom Pondeljak collected a back-heeler from Evan Berger and cut in from the left and beat Eugene Galekovic with a low drive from 25 metres.

The 33-year-old Pondeljak, playing in his third grand final, was later named the Joe Marston man-of-the-match.

Melbourne's Daniel Allsopp was sent off in the 64th minute for headbutting an opponent.

With both sides now reduced to ten players, Adelaide revived but were unable to find an equaliser.

Substitute Paul Agostino had two good chances for Adelaide in the dying minutes but could not connect with the first and fired wide with the second.

"Every one [grand final win] is great," said Victory coach, Ernie Merrick. "We've just had a great year and it just caps off two other fantastic trophies.

"Fifty odd thousand and the game has been beamed to 85 million households world-wide.

"That's just fantastic for Australian football.

"Every year it seems to get tougher.

"I thought Adelaide gave us a really tough fight all the way down to the wire. It could have gone either way.

"Eugene [Galekovic] saved them a couple of times, Michael [Theoklitos] saved us a couple of times.

"Overall, we just persevered and we got what I thought we deserved."

Adelaide captain, Travis Dodd, said: "You can't fault the boys tonight.

"It was a gutsy performance. Down to ten men, it was a very difficult game for us, but the amount of courage and heart the boys showed tonight to get through the game was fantastic."


Anonymous said...

you might say the game was even'd out when alsopp was sent off but victory had allready scored with him on. cristiano was harshly sent off due to the official seeing blood. he went to pull out the yellow and then stopped. but thats what we have come to expect from the australian referees, they are very consistant in makeing the wrong calls.

Anonymous said...

if you knew what the officials are told - by way of specific videos and written instruction - you would not make such a comment. The referee, as he is supposed to do, listened to the view of the assistant referee and based upon their collective understandings of what had taken place, he showed a red card.

The send off for elbows in heading contests is to protect the player trying to vie for headed contact with the ball. To allow a horizontal arm bent at the elbow to block the avenue for the opponent is not approproate. Some observers have said "but he didnt swing the elbow". He already had momentum in the bent arm as he was jumping towards his opponent.

FIFA have indicated that this is a RED card, and the referee and his assistant are to be congratulated for taking the appropriate action.

Anonymous said...

In an interesting twist I'm pretty sure Vargas was leading with his arm/elbow as well, should he not have been red carded also?

Anonymous said...

Tommy - not from my recollection of the contact - vargas was not as likely(if at all) to make contact with head of his direct opponent - an entirely different action.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous X, Surely the referee only has to consult his assistant if he is not sure about what happened in an incident, or if he didn't see an incident at all and the assistant has attracted his attention by flagging? The fact that he didn't make a decision immediately, and on his own, makes it controversial because it was open to debate.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to be at the game and must say live it was also a shock when Cristiano was sent off and Melbourne Fans went absolutely balistic with excitement, as you'd expect. The atmosphere at the game was just fantastic and highly recommend anyone to go in the future to watch this spectacle and witness how the Great Game is developing in OZ. I'm looking forward to seeing a Grand Final at the MCG sometime not too far away

Anonymous said...

Anon - My understanding of the rule as you've stated it would be that Vargas was committing the same offence, leading with an arm that could, or would block the avenue of an opponent to the ball. The fact that he didn't was simply by virtue that Cristiano jumped earlier and higher than he did? The action would appear to be the same, the actual or likely consequence is the only difference. Are we penalising acts or consequences?

Refereeing is a hard job, I'm glad I don't have to do it. I'm not attacking the referee here, I just want to understand the directive better.

Walter, further to your point the referee was initially holding a yellow card, which he changed to red after consulting his assistant, who I think might have been in a worse viewing position in terms of the angles at which they came at the ball.

Still the best side in the competition won, so it was a fair result from that perspective.

Anonymous said...

Walter - the assistants and the referee can talk to each other using the headsets. It could have been the assistant that asked for the discussion, or just as likely it could have been the referee asking the assistant what he saw.
Referee looked like he thought it was a yellow card, and then consulted. After that consultation there appeared to be no doubt in the referees mind.

I also saw the match live and when I first saw the yellow card I thought the player was lucky not to be getting a red - but we all see things differently.

Tommy - I dont think thats vargas's arm was bent at the elbow either.