Kevin Muscat says Melbourne Victory controlled the game in the derby against Melbourne Heart, despite appearing fortunate to snatch a 2-1 win.
Heart dominated possession and created the bulk of the chances at AAMI Park on Saturday, but trailed to Marco Rojas’ 67th-minute strike.
They subsequently piled pressure on the Victory goal, levelling through a header from captain Fred in the 82nd minute.
With Heart pouring forward in search of a winner, it was Victory who executed a smash and grab, veteran forward Archie Thompson chipping home the winner in the last minute of injury time.
Despite watching his team struggle to contain their city rivals in the second half, Victory assistant coach Muscat cut a defiant figure in the post-match press conference.
“From our perspective, I thought we showed great belief,” he said.
“It’s no coincidence that we’re creating chances late on in games, it’s happened on a number of occasions this season, and I thought we controlled the game for long periods today.
“We restricted possession to the opposition in their own half, albeit the game’s going to ebb and flow, and after their goal they got their tails up a little bit.
“But I thought we weathered that storm, and in the end, I thought we deserved the points.”
Thompson’s late goal arrived in dramatic fashion, the speedy forward racing clear and chipping Heart goalkeeper Clint Bolton with seconds to go.
The ball landed on the line and struck the crossbar and post, appearing to spin into the goal before Aziz Behich got back to clear.
Victory’s players and staff celebrated wildly, while Heart protested furiously, claiming the ball did not cross the line.
Referee Alan Milliner and his assistant signalled a goal, and Muscat endorsed the view of the match officials.
“From where I was sitting, I wasn’t too sure to be honest,” he said.
“But the linesman seemed to be in a decent enough position to make the call, and our players that were around the ball said it did cross the line.”
While Victory’s winner arrived in a chaotic final few minutes, Muscat felt the manner of the goal was testament to his team’s potent attacking instincts.
“We believe that when we do get it right, and at times tonight we got it spot on, we’ll break any team down,” he said.
“And the goal was testimony to that, the fact that we played through them lines, albeit it was a counter-attack, call it what you like, but that structure was still there, and we ended up getting a goal from it.”
Muscat addressed the media in place of head coach Ange Postecoglou, who left soon after the final whistle due to a family bereavement.