Snapshot of the A-League grand final

Vince Rugari

SNAPSHOT OF THE 2018 A-LEAGUE GRAND FINAL

THE GOAL: Leroy George floated a ball into the box from a long-range free kick in the ninth minute. James Donachie rose highest to head it across the box and Kosta Barbarouses took a lash and sent it past Jets goalkeeper Glen Moss, via the foot of John Koutroumbis.

THE CONTROVERSY: Replays showed Donachie was clearly offside when George's foot made connection with the ball - but the video assistant referee didn't intervene.

THE ATMOSPHERE: It was simply electric as Newcastle wholly embraced the first grand final in a major code held in a regional centre. But the early goal took the sting out of the crowd and emboldened the 5000-strong travelling contingent.

THE BLOODSHED: Roy O'Donovan was left with a bloodied nose and a bruised face after a collision with Besart Berisha's elbow in the Newcastle goalmouth midway through the second half.

THE SEND-OFF: O'Donovan ended the match in disgrace, copping a well-deserved red card in injury time for a high boot that caught Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas square in the jaw. It should earn the Irishman a long holiday.

THE HEARTBREAK: There was no fairytale finish for Newcastle to cap off their stunning rise after last season's wooden spoon. Their attack never really clicked into gear in the face of a resolute defensive display from Melbourne.

THE HERO: The Jets would have equalised were it not for a superhuman first half from Thomas, who produced three top-drawer saves, including one double effort that left almost everyone gobsmacked.

STAT THAT MATTERED: Melbourne completed only 66 passes in the first half, totally shutting up shop after snatching the lead.

ANOTHER TITLE: Victory's fourth championship makes them the most successful team in A-League history and draws them level with traditional powerhouses South Melbourne, Marconi and Sydney City, who won the National Soccer League four times.

THE RECOVERY: Victory fans were calling for Kevin Muscat's head halfway through the season. Now they're celebrating after becoming the first team since Adelaide City in 1992 to win a domestic crown from fourth spot.

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