Victory into grand final

Melbourne will host the Hyundai A-League Grand Final after a controversial late extra-time goal to Archie Thompson secured a 2-2 draw with Sydney FC in the pulsating major semi-final second leg at the SFS on Sunday.

Melbourne will host the Hyundai A-League Grand Final after a controversial late extra-time goal to Archie Thompson secured a 2-2 draw with Sydney FC in the pulsating major semi-final second leg at the SFS on Sunday.

With the two-leg tie deadlocked at 3-3 after the Sky Blues finished 2-1 up following the 90 minutes, the Victory struck through Thompson in the 113th minute to break the stalemate and claim the tie 4-3 on aggregate.

But there will be plenty of debate about the winner.

Melbourne captain Kevin Muscat caught the Sydney defence napping with his quick free kick to Thompson, who met the pass first time to beat Clint Bolton and send the visitors into their third decider in four years.

While the Sky Blues should not have switched off, they may argue the free kick was not warranted in the first place.

Sydney now meets Wellington in the preliminary final to decide Melbourne's opponent.

The Victory took a 2-1 advantage into Sunday's return leg but goals to Karol Kisel (penalty) and Mark Bridge - in reply to Robbie Kruse's early wonder strike for Melbourne - gave the Sky Blues a 2-1 win on the night before 23,818 raucous fans.

Melbourne, in the midst of a cramped playing schedule, almost found itself down a goal after just 96 seconds.

Alex Brosque's goal-bound header was cleared off the line by Tom Pondeljak in a tangle of arms, legs and torso.

The visitors overcame that early scare to open the scoring through Kruse after a quarter of an hour.

The slimline striker's season was feared over after he was cut down in a crude tackle by Terry McFlynn in the last round of the regular season.

But he defied the medicos to start the match and made his presence felt just 15 minutes into a pulsating contest.

After Seb Ryall was robbed of possession bringing the ball out from the back, Melbourne quickly found Kruse in acres of space outside the box.

He performed a semi-arc before letting fly with a cracking right-foot shot which curled past Bolton's outstretched left hand and into right-hand corner of the net.

It was a strike of great quality befitting Melbourne's 200th goal in the Hyundai A-League.

Carlos Hernandez almost doubled Melbourne's advantage on 23 minutes, his goal-bound volley palmed away by Bolton.

Sydney, enjoying 67 percent of possession during the first half, began running at the Victory defence and probably should have had a reward in the 33rd minute.

Bridge worked a lovely one-two with Alex Brosque to make his way into the box but dragged his shot into the side netting with the goal at his mercy.

But just three minutes later the Sky Blues were handed their lifeline back into the tie.

Brosque was unnecessarily shoved in the back by Adrian Leijer but made sure he hit the ground heavily, convincing referee Strebre Delovski to point to the spot.

Kisel took an age to compose himself but eventually blasted his penalty hard and high to the left to lock the second leg up at 1-1.

The dangerous Kruse almost restored Melbourne's advantage straight away, threading his way through to catch a glimpse of goal before scuffing his shot.

The second half opened with no let off in intensity.

Sydney's Sung-Hwan Byun brought a good save out of Mitchell Langerak just two minutes after the resumption, the Korean's rasping long-range drive punched clear for a corner.

The Sky Blues went ahead on the night - and drew level on aggregate - when Bridge broke his goal-scoring drought with a sublime finish on 53 minutes.

Byun's cross was met by Kisel at the back post and the Slovak showed great presence of mind to lay the ball back to Bridge on the edge of the box.

The No.19 produced a lovely first touch to shrug off Grant Brebner and hit a sweet left-foot shot past Langerak for his first goal since Round 13.

Chances continued to fall at both ends, Brebner blasting an attempt deep into the Melbourne faithful behind the Sydney goal after two delightful back heels opened up a chance after 74 minutes.

Byun again tried his luck from distance, turning away in despair as his volley strayed just left of the post minutes later.

Thompson, back from injury and brought into the game after 65 minutes, could have buried Sydney late in regular time.

But after finding himself one-on-one with the keeper, the Victory striker showed signs of rustiness in hitting his shot directly at the advancing Bolton.

But there was to be no late goal, the match going to extra time.

The Victory enjoyed the best of what was on offer early, Bolton twice saving from point-blank range as first Marvin Angulo and then Hernandez took aim.

But it was Thompson - courtesy of some quick thinking from crowd villain Muscat - who decided it with an opportunist's goal seven minutes before the end of extra time.

Sydney FC 2 (Kisel 36p, Bridge 53) Melbourne 2 (Kruse 15, Thompson 113)