Holders Melbourne Victory have secured progression to the FFA Cup semi-finals for the second year running, downing Bentleigh Greens 2-0 at Kingston Heath on Tuesday night.
Bentleigh were dogged but were eventually overwhelmed by Victory’s class, with goals from Marco Rojas and James Troisi securing the hard-fought win in front of 3,754.
Besart Berisha came close to making it three in the 91st minute, but his shot rattled the base of the post.
Kevin Muscat’s side now join Sydney FC, Melbourne City and Canberra Olympic in the semi-finals.
The crowd figure is a new attendance record for Bentleigh.
Victory take time to thaw
On a freezing night in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, Victory took some time to get going in a cagey opening half. It suited Bentleigh to the ground, who were able to absorb early pressure and forge half-chances of their own, but the cup holders eventually got the better of their challengers.
Victory had threatened to bust the game open, and Rojas finally broke the deadlock in the 64th minute, bundling home Olly Bozanic’s inch-perfect cross.
The A-League side doubled their advantage just two minutes through a Troisi goal that came about in strange fashion, deflecting off Troy Ruthven, then off the crossbar and in.
From then on, the floodgates threatened to crash open. That never happened, however – testament to the Greens, who were hardly disgraced in defeat, and a warm round of applause at the game’s conclusion reflected that.
In both Victory’s two most recent cup games against state league opposition, they were slow to get going which will leaved Muscat somewhat worried.
But, by the same token, they never appeared likely of defeat.
Bad moment for ex-Victory youngster
Former Victory and now Bentleigh full-back Kieran Dover departed the three-time A-League champs at the conclusion of last A-League season, finding a new home at Bentleigh.
Hoping to impress – or even haunt – old employers, Dover was culpable for allowing Victory in on Ryan Scott’s goal.
Exiting the defensive third, Bozanic stripped him of possession and crossed for Rojas, a goal that essentially sealed Greens’ fate.
Another local win for the cup
A-League opposition visiting Kingston Heath is not a first – Perth Glory visited Melbourne’s east back in edition one, emerging 3-0 victors and ending the Bentleigh fairytale run.
Now hosting the local powerhouse, it was a night to remember for Bentleigh, with 3,754 people piling into the suburban stadium – a record crowd.