A-League's Top 10 last-gasp winners

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EXCLUSIVE: It's that day of eternal regret when you left the stadium early to beat the rush – that moment when the final kick of the ball breaks hearts and creates legends. Last weekend's A-League action saw two games decided in injury-time thanks to late goals from the Mariners’ Mitchell Duke and Ranko Despotovic for Sydney FC. We thought we’d countdown the best last-gasp winners over the course of the A-League. Do Duke and Despotovic’s goals rank among the Top 10?

10. JOHN ALOISI

Adelaide United v Melbourne Heart (1-2), Hindmarsh Stadium, Week 19, 2010-11

After a run of six defeats in their previous seven games, a trip to Hindmarsh Stadium against a strong Adelaide United side was always going to be a difficult task for Melbourne Heart in their inaugural season. And when the Reds' Sergio van Dijk scored a goal on the stroke of half-time the task got even harder. But Heart showed plenty of fighting spirit and veteran Simon Colosimo managed to find an equaliser for the away side in the 89th minute of the encounter. United thought they had the three points all wrapped up but left finished with nothing when Socceroos legend John Aloisi popped up in the second minute of stoppage time to secure a valuable three points for the struggling expansion club. Sounds familiar.

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9. RANKO DESPOTOVIC

Sydney FC v Wellington Phoenix (2-1), SFS, Round 7, 2013-14

Sydney FC had won their previous two games and were looking to make it three straight wins for the first time since 2009. They were on the right track when Richard Garcia put them in the lead in the first-half. They made it harder on themselves when Pedj Bojic was sent off for a second yellow card with less than 20 minutes remaining and were punished when Phoenix’s Costa Rican striker, Kenny Cunningham, equalised in the 91st minute. But the action was far from over, with Serbian striker, and debutant, Ranko Despotovic stepping up to tap home a very late winner for the home side.

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8. GRANT BREBNER

Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory (1-0), Telstra Dome, Round 12, 2006-07

After an unsuccessful first season in the A-League, Melbourne Victory started the 2006-07 season in rampant form, winning seven straight to build an impressive gap on the rest of the league. The week prior to the game against the Glory, Victory had come back from being 3-2 down and with nine men to rescue a point against the Mariners. Without Rodrigo Vargas and captain Kevin Muscat, the two-men sent off, Victory managed to pull off a hard-fought win against the Glory to truly cement themselves as the title favourites. And it all came down to the 89th minute when Grant Brebner unleashed an unstoppable strike from 25 yards out to hand his side the three points.

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7. BESART BERISHA

Brisbane Roar vs Sydney FC (2-1), Suncorp Stadium, Week 15, 2011-12

Suncorp Stadium has seen plenty of drama over the years, including this dramatic win by Brisbane Roar over a hapless Sydney FC. The Sky Blues were on track for a 1-0 win through Mark Bridge’s first-half effort, but Mohammed Adnan managed to nab an equaliser in the 94th minute with a stunning free-kick that blasted into the top corner. Sydney were distraught, and Brisbane could smell blood. Up stepped Besart Berisha to head home a winner with literally the final play of the game. Brisbane then went on to lose only one game on their road to a second consecutive Championship.

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6. ARCHIE THOMPSON

Melbourne Heart v Melbourne Victory (1-2), AAMI Park, Round 12, 2012-13

It had been over two years since Melbourne Victory last defeated Heart in a derby game, which to that point had been their only derby success in the seven previous encounters between the rivals. The season-before ‘Christmas derby’ produced one of the best games in A-League history, and this one didn’t disappoint either. Marco Rojas gave the Victory the lead on 67 minutes but Heart managed to net an equaliser through an incredibly rare header from Heart’s captain at the time, Fred. But Archie Thompson was to have one last say in the matter, lobbing the ball over Clint Bolton to seal a memorable derby win for the blue side of Melbourne.

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5. ANDREW NABBOUT

Sydney FC v Mebourne Victory (2-3), SFS, Round 6, 2012-13

A teenage substitute by the name of Andrew Nabboutt was thrown on by Ange Postecoglou with the Victory 2-0 down away to Sydney FC. The hope was he could help get his side back in the game and did he ever! Goals to Yairo Yau and Pascal Bosschaart had Sydney cruising, a week after their 7-2 drubbing at the hands of Central Coast, but Nabbout pulled one back with just 12 minutes to go - a stunning curling effort. It was not long before Archie Thompson’s header brought the scores level, and with Victory now carrying all the momentum, it was almost inevitable they would come away with all three points. And it was Nabbout who scored the winner with a headed goal from a Gui Finkler corner in the 91st minute to secure one of the best come-from-behind wins in A-League history.

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4. NICK CARLE

Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United (2-1), EnergyAustralia Stadium, Round 10, 2006-07

As well as being a 90th minute winner, this goal from Nick Carle has to go down as one of the best goals in A-League historyl. Vaughan Coveny put the Jets in the lead mid-way through the first-half but it was shortly cancelled out by Carl Veart’s spot-kick. The Jets were only bottom a few weeks prior to this encounter, but Gary van Egmond’s men were able to secure a third consecutive win thanks to Carle’s solo effort. The midfielder ran almost the length of the field, dribbling with ease past the United players, before a sweet left-footed strike found its way into the back of the net to steal a late victory.

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3. JAMES ROBINSON

Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United (2-1), Telstra Dome, major semi-final, 2nd leg, 2006-07

Melbourne Victory were the best team all season, but were so close to losing a home grand final after a 0-0 draw away from home in the first-leg of the semi-final against Adelaide United. Making it worse they were down 1-0 early in the second-leg at home. Travis Dodd popped up to give United that early lead and send them into the break with the advantage. Victory knew what they had to do, and that was win. A draw would see United advance to the grand final on away goals. They started the second-half with a bang as Danny Allsopp scored one of his finest ever goals - and on his left-foot as well. The score remained deadlocked at 1-1 heading into stoppage-time but Victory had one last chance through a free-kick. It was hit long to the back-post where James Robinson stood all by himself, with the substitute looping a header over the goalkeeper and somehow into the back of the net. Victory had secured a first ever grand final berth but they left it extremely late.

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2. BESART BERISHA

Brisbane Roar v Perth Glory (2-1), Suncorp Stadium, Grand Final 2011-12

What is more dramatic than a stoppage-time winner in a final? How about the winner coming from a spot-kick! Or how about that spot-kick coming from an alleged dive. The 2011-12 Grand Final had one of the most spectacular endings of all time thanks to a familiar figure in the Roar line-up, a certain Besart Berisha. An Ivan Franjic own-goal had Perth Glory 1-0 up in the second-half of their first ever A-League Grand Final, but Berisha cancelled it out with an equaliser six minutes from time. It was 1-1 and almost everybody in attendance or watching on TV thought the season showdown was headed for extra-time for the third consecutive year. Not this time. Berisha was ‘clipped’ as he shot for goal deep into injury-time and was awarded a penalty by ref Jarred Gillett. There was plenty of debate from the Glory players but the whistle blower was not about to change his decision, leaving Berisha to coolly slot away the winner in the 97th minute. The result sealed a 2-1 win for Roar and their second consecutive championship.

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1. ERIK PAARTALU

Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners (2-2), Suncorp Stadium, Grand Final 2010-11

Not exactly a late ‘winner’ but it was a goal that secured the penalty shoot-out for Roar, who were consequently crowned victorious in the 2010-11 Grand Final. The Roar and the Mariners had been the two best sides all season and were bound to face-off in the A-League's showpiece event. But no one expected the Mariners to be leading 2-0 late into extra-time following a 0-0 draw at the end of the 90 minutes. Surely a comfortable lead! But Brisbane ensured the Central Coast were to have nightmares for many years to come with a stunning come-back. Henrique pulled a goal back on 117 minutes, before Erik Paartalu’s powerful header, with literally seconds on the clock, sent the game was headed to penalties. The rest is history.  

 

 

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