2016-17 Australian A-League, Semifinals
  • Besart Berisha (70')

Besart Berisha strikes for Melbourne Victory to down Roar in semifinal

Besart Berisha Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Melbourne Victory will play Sydney FC for the A-League championship after Besart Berisha sunk his former club Brisbane Roar in their semifinal on Sunday night.

On a tense evening at AAMI Park, Berisha broke the deadlock for Kevin Muscat's men with 20 minutes remaining, heading home Fahid Ben Khalfallah's cross. Victory were worthy winners after playing the role of aggressors for most of the game and eventually beat determined goalkeeper Jamie Young.

Their progression to the showpiece match -- to be played on Sunday, May 7 at Allianz Stadium -- means the top two finishers will compete in the grand final for the fifth straight year.

The decider is also a repeat of the 2015 contest, won 3-0 by Muscat's Victory. But on the evidence of Sunday night, Victory will need to lift their game to match Graham Arnold's record-breaking Sydney FC.

Victory came into the match with just one goal since March 11 and again struggled to be incisive up front. Berisha set the tone early when he couldn't control Marco Rojas' cross, losing track of the ball just metres from goal.

James Donachie made a mess of a free header from a Rojas corner and Berisha, Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Leigh Broxham all saw one-on-one chances saved by Young. The Brisbane Roar gloveman, wearing an armguard after requiring 26 stitches from his midweek mishap in Thailand, kept Victory at bay for more than an hour.

When Broxham's trailing knee collided with Young's head, the patched up goalkeeper needed a lengthy delay before being cleared to continue. Brandon Borrello had Brisbane's best chances, sending shots outside the goal frame either side of half time.

The tension was rising, as evidenced by the increasing ferocity of Muscat's complaints on the touchline. Only the sight of Sydney FC coach Arnold on the big screen relaxed proceedings, with Brisbane and Victory fans uniting to sing of their dislike for the premiership winner.

Rojas elevated the occasion with one glorious touch - controlling Daniel Georgievski's long ball and turning Corey Brown inside out. His shot was too tame to trouble Young but Victory would soon have their goal.

On his last appearance at AAMI Park, Ben Khalfallah's outstanding ball was the difference, as Berisha ended the season of his former club.