Melbourne Victory were once again crowned Hyundai A-League champions for the fourth time, following their 1-0 victory over Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Eight rounds into the season, manager Kevin Muscat was supposedly onto his last legs after Victory suffered a 4-1 loss to Newcastle Jets and slipped to eighth spot, having previously suffered four draws and two losses and just one win.
The result left the former Socceroo being booed by fans but Muscat went on to turn the team around and become the fourth coach win the Hyundai A-League championship for a second time, joining Ange Postecoglou, Graham Arnold and Jets boss Ernie Merrick.
“The amount of adversities, challenges and obstacles that we had to jump, it’s been phenomenal,” Muscat said.
“I don’t think it’s been highlighted enough because I tend to not bring them up or talk about it because it’s just perceived as excuses.
“It’s something I’m not really comfortable with, making excuses. So instead we just stared the challenges down one by one and got ourselves to a point where, towards the back end of the season, we got some continuity and belief started building.
“And as the season came to a close, we were just getting stronger and stronger. To come from fourth – I understand that hasn’t been done before – and win an away grand final isn’t easy.”
Whilst Kosta Barbarouses sealed the crown for Victory after his 9th minute goal became the earliest ever goal in a Hyundai A-League Grand Final, it was Lawrence Thomas that will go down as the game’s hero.
The heroic goalkeeper became the fifth Victory player and second goalkeeper in leagues history to scoop the Joe Marston Medal for his defiant display, after he repelled the Jets with a string of fine saves, including a sensational double save to deny Riley McGree and Jason Hoffman in the first-half.