A last-gasp Gui Finkler free-kick snatched Melbourne Victory an enthralling 1-1 draw from Western Sydney Wanderers at AAMI Park on Saturday.
In a game that could be overshadowed by clashes between rival supporters earlier in the day, substitute Brendon Santalab appeared to have given the visitors all three points with a well-taken goal in the 71st minute.
But Finkler had other ideas as he struck a brilliant injury-time free kick to ensure the Victory ended the match level with the reigning premiers.
Home goalkeeper Nathan Coe superbly denied Labinot Haliti’s free header, but it was Melbourne who dominated the early play, with attacking duo Mitch Nichols and James Troisi particularly threatening.
Haliti spurned a gilt-edged chance on the stroke of half-time, but the Wanderers eventually made pressure after the interval count in the 71st minute.
Finkler gave the ball away cheaply to Tahj Minniecon in the middle of the park before he slipped in Santalab who scored with his first touch, slotting the ball past Coe on his near post.
The Victory's frustrations only grew from there with several more chances going begging, the best of which was a deflected Nichols effort which looped agonisingly wide of Ante Covic's far post.
With the hosts pressing for a winner they were left exposed on the counter and were lucky not to fall further behind with Youssouf Hersi missing two good chances, including a one-on-one with Coe.
But the home side refused to give up and after Finkler was brought down on the edge of the box, the Brazilian stepped up to gift Victory a point.comments