Victory dig deep for fans

Melbourne captain Kevin Muscat has revealed how a pact made over a team lunch was the catalyst for Victory's courageous major semi-final win over Sydney.

Melbourne captain Kevin Muscat has revealed how a pact made over a team lunch was the catalyst for Victory's courageous major semi-final win over Sydney.

Muscat's men put behind a hectic playing and travelling schedule to fight out a 2-2 draw with the Sky Blues at the SFS on Sunday night, taking the two-leg tie 4-3 on aggregate and booking a place in Saturday week's grand final.

Victory players lunched in Melbourne on Friday and to a man pledged to overcome Sydney and give their supporters the home grand final they craved.

That desire was evident as the visitors dug deep into their playing resources and spirit to grab a winner (on aggregate) deep into extra time in a tremendous end-to-end battle against the gallant Sky Blues

"There was an underlying hunger (that) we wanted to go back to Melbourne and play the grand final in front of the best fans in the country," Muscat said.

"The players went to lunch on Friday and we spoke about how we've got an unbelievable opportunity here to give something back to them."

"I sincerely mean it. We do think of the fans before we go out and we speak about it."

"There was an underlying hunger to give them a home grand final so they can all get across."

"It also gives us the best chance of being successful in that grand final, having it at home."

Coach Ernie Merrick, who has had to chart a course through the A-League finals while kick-starting the club's Asian Champions League campaign added: "It-s a major achievement."

"Every time we've had a setback this year - be it injury, scheduling or suspension - we just keep coming back and the boys keep performing when they need to."

"We set the challenge to host another grand final and we're going to tick that one off and look forward to that in a few days' time."

"It was a double bonus, getting a home grand final and not having to play a qualifying game (next weekend)."

There was a touch of controversy about Melbourne's extra time winner, scored by Archie Thompson after he latched onto a quickly taken Muscat free kick.

Sydney felt the free kick - given for a handball against Terry McFlynn - should not have been given and was further surprised that Muscat was allowed to take the free kick so swiftly.

"Yeah (it's) disappointing because speaking to the players - I didn't really see the incident - but they said it wasn't a free kick and the players that were in the wall they were told to move back," Sydney skipper John Aloisi said.

"A couple of their players stood over the ball when we try and take quick free kicks and nothing happens."

"But that's the way football goes and we have to make sure we're switched on all the time."

"It was a bit disappointing because we've spoken before about how they play quick free kicks and we should make sure we're switched on (and) we weren't."

Muscat said of the goal: "Archie's always aware and he's always trying to gain an advantage, trying to gain a yard."

"He's got a knack of making eye contact just when he needs to."

"He's done that a number of times this season. It was going to take something special to beat (Sydney keeper) Clint (Bolton) tonight."

Sydney will host Wellington in the preliminary final, with the winner taking on Victory in the decider.