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Victory claim late-burning derby duel

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/02/2017 Ben McKay

Besart Berisha has propelled Melbourne Victory to an A-League derby comeback for the ages, coming from a goal behind to defeat Melbourne City 2-1 in the dying stages.

Amid high drama on Saturday, Tim Cahill was sent off for dissent without making it onto the pitch as Victory jumped off the canvas with six minutes remaining.

City appeared to be heading for a win to open up the race for second place when Neil Kilkenny scored his first goal of his Australian career to put them ahead after 70 minutes.

But Berisha - who had threatened to be the night's villain after blowing chances either side of half-time - put Victory on terms from Marco Rojas' cut-back.

Two minutes later, Victory had a controversial winner when Jason Geria's fizzed cross deflected off Ivan Franjic's foot into the City net.

The result cuts Victory's gap from leaders Sydney FC to nine points with nine matches remaining.

Cahill was denied the chance to find an equaliser after seeing red when referee Chris Beath took umbridge at a comment made on the touchline.

For all the late drama, for an hour this was a turgid affair.

Just 35,426 turned out; the derby's lowest crowd at Etihad Stadium since Melbourne Heart were admitted to the league.

A first half of dubious quality saw the foul count outstrip shots on target by 26 to nil.

But within the first 45 minutes, both sides should have troubled the scorers.

Berisha should have put Victory ahead in the first half's dying minutes, only to take an airswing from Alan Baro's cross from three metres out.

A minute later, Bruno Fornaroli thought he'd headed City in front but the linesman thought otherwise, flagging the Uruguayan offside in a tight call.

The win is Victory's first in four matches and gives them breathing space in the race for the top two - and the all-important home semi-final.

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