Melbourne Victory's less remarkable heroes

By definition, sudden-death football has a habit of turning players into heroes. More often than not, it's the obvious candidates who are canonised.

Guilherme Finkler will certainly be joining the pantheon of Melbourne Victory greats after scoring a 92nd-minute winner to defeat arch-rivals Sydney FC on Friday night. James Troisi likewise for his part in the famous upset of Guanghzou Evergrande three days prior.

But two of the other protagonists in that A-League elimination final and must-win AFC Champions League game will, if not quite be credited with delivering the killer blows, at least earn far more than a mere footnote in the history of Victory's 2013-14 campaign.

And if their efforts at other times this season are anything to go by, they are unlikely saviours indeed.

Following a series of costly errors, culminating in a 4-2 loss in the first meeting with Evergrande, goalkeeper Nathan Coe was dropped for eight matches, only regaining his place after Lawrence Thomas committed a blunder of his own in the 3-2 defeat away to Yokohama F Marinos.

In the last two games Coe has been close to unbeatable, producing save after save to deny the Chinese Super League and ACL title holders on Tuesday. He was at it again against Sydney, showing remarkable reflexes to prevent Matt Jurman from heading the Sky Blues into the lead early in the second half.

"He's performed very well tonight," coach Kevin Muscat said.

"Coey was outstanding. How he's reacted to not playing has been nothing short of positive. It's a credit to him, because he didn't drop his bundle."

Pablo Contreras is the other player to have answered his critics emphatically this week. Much-maligned early in his A-League career, the Chilean has improved considerably in the second half of the campaign. He twice cleared off the line to help his team keep a clean sheet against the richest club in Asia on Tuesday, before dispossessing none other than Italian great Alessandro Del Piero to help set up Victory's first goal against Sydney.

"He's been brilliant hasn't he? He's been brilliant, Pablo," Muscat said.

"He comes across here as a marquee player and I suppose that's a big target on his back. But his performances in recent weeks, in the last six, seven weeks have been nothing short of outstanding. He's led from the front and he's a fine example to the young defenders we've got in our team."

And what of the players more accustomed to receiving the crowd's acclaim and riding off with the post-match plaudits?

Finkler remains in contract negotiations with Victory, although his new status as a last-gasp playoff match-winner is sure to only strengthen his position at the negotiating table.

"Should have got it done a couple of days ago to be honest," Muscat joked when asked for an update on those talks.

And has Troisi, hitting top form at the critical point of the season, impressed Ange Postecoglou enough to earn a place in the Socceroos' squad for the World Cup in Brazil?

"The one thing I do know is, he's not done his chances any harm."

Even if Muscat's side go all the way to the grand final and progress in Asia, there are now just a handful of games left for other players to stake their own claim to cult status this season.

So, with a crucial match against Jeonbuk Motors away on Tuesday and a semi-final against either Brisbane Roar or Western Sydney, also on the road, next weekend, the question for each Victory player is, do they want to be hero?