A ‘gutted’ Kevin Muscat believes his side clearly deserved to progress the Hyundai A-League Semi-Finals despite suffering a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Brisbane Roar in Friday night's Elimination Final at Suncorp Stadium.
Melbourne Victory dominated the contest in the Queensland capital and appeared destined to reach the final four after Besart Berisha gave them the lead with less than five minutes remaining.
But goals to Matt McKay and Thomas Broich in a frenetic final five minutes gave the Roar a remarkable win and left the visitors stunned.
“I’m shattered for the group. I don’t think I need to convince you that we didn’t deserve that tonight. We were very good,” Muscat told reporters post-match.
“On a night we deserved more than we got. It can be a cruel game sometimes and it was certainly one of those nights tonight."
Victory came out of the blocks in the first half and caused the Roar all sorts of problems with their energy and willingness to press high up the park.
The visitors recorded 10 shots to 0 in the opening stanza and missed a glorious chance to open the scoring through Fahid Ben Khalfallah just past the hour mark.
Muscat admitted his side’s inability to translate their dominance into goals proved decisive but hailed his side’s brave performance away from home.
“We should have come in with an advantage in the first half. We had numerous opportunities that we didn’t convert,” he said.
“We were the better team tonight. Regardless of whatever stats there are out there. I’m just gutted for the group. For the season to finish like it has tonight…gutted."
Victory will now switch focus to the Asian Champions League with a midweek trip to China their next assignment as they tackle Shanghai SIPG.
Muscat is confident his side can quickly move on from their A-League disappointment as they look to progress to the knockout stages of the continental tournament for the first time.
“It’s going have to be done quickly. Each individual is different. We’ve got to get ourselves up pretty quickly.
“Tonight will be a quiet night. But to be eliminated in the way that we did and the way we played, I’m very proud of the players.
“I shouldn’t imagine it will be too hard to pick ourselves back up.”