Archie Thompson’s extra-time winner guided Melbourne Victory into the A-League semi-finals after a dramatic 2-1 win on Friday.
Perth Glory looked to have booked a date with the Central Coast Mariners in next Sunday’s semi until two minutes of mayhem turned the elimination final on its head.
A penalty at either end and a red card to Glory defender Steve Pantelidis swung the momentum entirely in Victory’s favour.
After twice spurning golden opportunities to put the contest to bed, the returning Shane Smeltz crashed an 88th-minute penalty into the crossbar when a conversion would have made it 2-0 for his side after Ryo Nagai put the Glory ahead in the first half.
Less than two minutes later substitute Andrew Nabbout was hauled down by Pantelidis, who received his second yellow as the referee pointed to the spot.
Mark Milligan held his nerve to cushion home the penalty and the shell-shocked Glory would go a goal behind when Marco Rojas’ brilliant cross found Thompson’s stooping head and the back of the net four minutes into extra-time.
Soon after, Glory attacker Nagai saw his penalty claim waived away, and the Victory wasted two golden chances for a third in the dying embers of a breathless contest at Etihad Stadium.
For much of the match, it appeared double-title winning coach Ange Postecoglou’s hopes of a fairy-tale three-peat were no more than a pipedream.
Nagai deservedly put the visitors ahead on 15 minutes, and if it were not for Smeltz’s trio of glaring second-half misses, Glory’s flickering title hopes would be alive and well.
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