You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Berisha sent off as Victory lock in finals

NZN 2/04/2016 Cathy Walshe

Melbourne Victory secured their spot in the A-League finals with a 4-1 win over Wellington Phoenix on Saturday but look likely to head into the play-offs without key striker Besart Berisha.

The hot-tempered game had it all - plenty of goals, two red cards and a missed penalty - but the defending champions came out on top.

Berisha lashed out off the ball and was red-carded 10 minutes before halftime, but Victory took a 2-0 lead into the break thanks to the Albanian's 17th goal of the season and Oliver Bozanic's fourth.

Wellington also went a man down 10 minutes after the restart when midfielder Albert Riera received his second yellow.

Gui Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses, both heading to Wellington next season, combined soon after to quash any Phoenix hopes of a comeback.

Wellington managed a late consolation goal to Roly Bonevacia but George Howard's stoppage-time finish gave Melbourne the last say.

Despite the return of Ben Sigmund to bolster the central defence, Wellington looked disorganised at the back and it was no surprise when they conceded early.

Tom Doyle's attempted clearance went badly awry, Barbarouses pounced on the loose ball and crossed for Berisha to backheel flick past Moss for a 1-0 lead after just eight minutes.

Wellington managed the odd foray in Victory territory as the rain fell harder, their best chance coming in the 17th minute when Andrew Durante's bullet header was cleared at point blank range by Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas.

Two minutes later, Bozanic finished a slick build-up with a clinical low drive to double Melbourne's lead.

With Victory well in control, and 10 minutes until halftime, Berisha imploded after going down in an aerial challenge with Sigmund.

Unhappy at the contact, the Albanian striker spent too long on the ground for the frustrated Phoenix, Durante reaching down to pull him up only for Berisha to lash out with his foot in full view of referee Ben Williams.

Durante was given a yellow card, but Berisha received red, but although the defending champions were down to 10 men, they weren't pushed in taking a 2-0 lead into halftime.

Barbarouses slotted home his sixth goal of the season in the 56th minute, and Bonevacia hauled one back for the home team with seven minutes remaining.

Four minutes later, midfielder Michael McGlinchey had the chance to further reduce the margin from the penalty spot only to blast high and wide.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon