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Victory stun City with late A-L drama

NZN 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.

In manic scenes, Tim Cahill was sent off for dissent without making it onto the pitch as Victory jumped off the canvas with six minutes remaining.

City were heading for a win to open up the race for second place when Neil Kilkenny scored his first goal in Australia to put them ahead after 70 minutes.

But Berisha - who was previously the night's villain after blowing golden 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 Manny Muscat's foot into the City net.

The result cuts the gap from leaders Sydney FC to nine points with nine matches remaining.

The three points will also prevent Berisha from a sleepless night after his earlier blunders.

The Albanian 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.

He then missed a penalty on 62 minutes after Luke Brattan tugged down Rojas inside the box.

Dean Bouzanis was equal to his effort, and let the Victory striker know all about it, calling him a "gypsy" in comments picked up by on-ground microphones.

The Albanian was in the thick of the action for Victory's match-winner, requiring the referee and linesman to consult given his close attention to Bouzanis.

The goal eventually stood, much to City's chagrin.

Worse for Michael Valkanis' side, Cahill was denied the chance to find an equaliser.

After starting on the bench, Cahill was set for a late injection into the match but saw red when referee Chris Beath took umbridge at a comment made on the touch-line.

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.

City's best chance fell to Bruno Fornaroli, who headed home a 45th minute cross from Kilkenny but was flagged as offside in a tight decision.

"I thought it was a good goal," Valkanis said.

Valkanis said he had been given no explanation for Cahill's send off.

"There were some things that happened that I've never seen in my footballing career," he said.

"There were contentious decisions that I'm not going to speak about now. We have to look at the video.

After seeing Victory record a first win in four matches, Victory assistant coach Jean-Paul de Marigny applauded his side.

"We never gave up. That's not our mentality. It's to play right to the end," he said.

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