Melbourne Victory have defied a tough schedule to beat Sydney FC, and now face a decisive week for the A-League club.
Kevin Muscat’s men keep finding new ways to win.
A week ago in Wellington, a hit-and-run effort earned them a 4-1 A-League win over the Phoenix.
On Tuesday night against Guangzhou Evergrande, a young side outplayed and out-ran the Asian champions.
And for their A-League elimination final against Sydney FC, it took a last-gasp winner.
After ex-Victory man Sebastian Ryall equalised Archie Thompson’s opener, the match looked headed for extra time.
But Gui Finkler’s last minute half-volley sent Victory through to an A-League semi-final and kept Victory’s championship hopes rolling.
“We’re still in the hat, our dream’s still alive,” Muscat said.
“I could see it was one of us on the edge of the box… I was pleased it was Gui because I knew he’d score.”
Prior to the game, Muscat insisted his side would “go for the jugular” against Sydney FC, though that was far from how the match played out.
Whether it was tiredness or tactics, Victory’s win was more grinding than clinical.
“You probably think we were a little bit flat, maybe in comparison to (the 2-0 win over Guangzhou),” he said.
“But I thought we were making the play, always probing.
“I thought we deserved the result for sheer persistence.”
Victory’s run of matches has been unprecedented.
They’ve had three matches in the last seven days, and have another two in the next eight days.
Before facing Brisbane or Western Sydney next weekend, Victory will have played in four countries and four states in just eight weeks.
And while Victory players are clearly feeling the pinch physically, the galvanising effect has been phenomenal.
Muscat suggested James Troisi embodied that spirit.
The only man to have played in every one of Victory’s A-League and Asian Champions League fixtures this season, Troisi netted a last-minute goal on Tuesday night and helped create Finkler’s injury-time winner.