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Sydney under 'enormous pressure': Muscat

NZN 4/03/2017 Emma Kemp

Even as Kevin Muscat seethed over another damaging Big Blue call, there was still a menacing glint in his eye at the prospect of reigniting his feud with "under-pressure" Sydney FC in a potential A-League grand final.

The Melbourne Victory coach was dumbfounded by referee Peter Green's failure to show Sky Blues defender Michael Zullo a red card in the ninth minute at a rain-soaked Allianz Stadium on Friday night.

Zullo somehow escaped with a yellow for clipping Marco Rojas on the heel as the Kiwi winger hurtled towards a loose ball outside the edge of Sydney's box. The visitors' anger only increased when James Troisi skied the subsequent free-kick well over the bar.

That contentious moment - like David Carney's handball goal in November - could have changed the game.

This time it ultimately handed Sydney the Premiers' Plate and resigned Victory, now 11 points adrift, to second.

"It'd be a hell of a lot different if the correct call was made, in my opinion," Muscat said.

"That's twice we've been here and big calls have gone against us. Real big calls, game-changing calls.

"In Peter Green's opinion, he didn't think Marco was going to catch the ball - the quickest player on the park ... when I asked Marco he says he would have got it and he was brought down.

"The sooner the video (assistant referees) comes in the better, because Peter needed some help on that decision."

That aside, the game in the end belonged to Sydney on the balance of play - the hosts had 18 shots to Victory's five and should have converted a handful.

Muscat admitted his side's defence was penetrated as they committed men forward in an attempt to equalise, leaving them with "a big mountain to climb" to catch a Sydney side needing only four points from five remaining games to seal the premiership and a guaranteed home grand final, should they win through.

Victory have laid down their own route to May's decider, having all but mathematically taken second and automatic progression to a home semi-final.

Should the spiteful interstate rivals play off for the championship, as they did two seasons ago when Victory reigned, Muscat was adamant his players would not allow three Big Blue defeats this season to affect them mentally.

In stark contrast, the message was almost a forewarning.

"It'll be totally different," he said.

"There's a lot of football to be played from now until the end of the season. Sydney will be under enormous pressure to get a home grand final, so let's see what plays out.

"We're definitely looking forward to meeting them again."

Sydney coach Graham Arnold disagreed with Muscat on Zullo, arguing "justice was done because it was offside".

"I have seen the video and Rojas was offside anyway," Arnold said.

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