Goal-line controversy overshadows epic Melbourne derby draw

It was a pulsating derby at AAMI Park and while the points were shared after a 2-2 draw between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory, all the talk will be about a Guilherme Finkler free kick that clearly crossed the line - but was adjudged not to be a goal by the match officials.

Finkler no goal

Victory's Gui Finkler remonstrates with referee Chris Beath after his free-kick was incorrectly ruled not to have crossed the goal-line against City Source: Getty Images

It would have put Victory ahead for the first time in the match too, and quite possibly would have won it for them, but it wasn't to be.

Finkler's free kick from just outside the area came down off the crossbar and was clearly over the line - but no goal was given.

Victory players and fans alike were incensed, and Football Federation Australia must now be considering the cost and feasibility of additional assistant referees behind the goal.

It would be worth it, because we should all be talking about what was a seriously good game of football, and what would have been a stirring Victory comeback. 

City were able to call on Alex Wilkinson in the centre of defence and he made an able and solid debut in the cauldron of AAMI Park.

The match was billed as a battle of Bruno Fornaroli against Besart Berisha, and Fornaroli scored twice, his brace sandwiched by a wonderful goal by Fahid Ben Khalfallah. 

Finkler knew nothing about his equaliser at the start of the second half, but that was almost irrelevant.

Fornaroli now has 16 goals in 19 matches this season and his first in this game was beautiful.

He started the move with a Rabona on half way and ended up finishing it off, picking up a lovely ball by Mooy before dinking the ball with perfect weight past Danny Vukovic. The finish was all class.

So was Ben Khalfallah's.

Sorensen made a fantastic one-on-one block from Kosta Barbarouses, but when the ball popped out to Ben Khalfallah about 25 yards out, he lobbed the ball beautifully over Sorensen and the despairing, backtracking City defenders. 

The margin of error was tiny, but he managed to find the gap where the ball would clear the giant Sorensen but also drop beneath the crossbar.

A wicked delivery from Mooy saw City take the lead again, his delivery so good the 175cm Fornaroli snuck in to head into the bottom corner. 

It was helter-skelter stuff, with Ben Khalfallah's goal and Fornaroli's second only a few minutes apart.

Finkler drew his side level early in the second half when Sorensen palmed out a cross into his shoulder - the world seemed to stand still as Finkler looked around for the ball, but eventually it dropped into the back of the net. 

The Brazilian thought he'd given his side the lead for the first time in the match when his free-kick came down off the bar - it would have been a huge momentum shift to take the lead with half an hour to go.

The game ebbed and flowed and there was another spark when Anthony Caceres was given a second yellow card with just over ten minutes to go.

City, perhaps counting their blessings after their goal-line fortune, decided a draw was enough, while Victory threw on Archie Thompson, looking for a late winner.

It didn't come - but really they'd scored one earlier.

Melbourne City 2 (Fornaroli 22', 31') Melbourne Victory 2 (Ben Khalfallah 28', Finkler 47')

AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Chris Beath
Crowd: 25,738 

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3 min read
Published 13 February 2016 at 9:33pm
By Matthew Connellan