Melbourne Victory have one foot in their first A-League Men grand final in four years, but Western United remain confident of turning around a 1-0 first-leg deficit. Jake Brimmer’s strike gave Victory a one-goal lead on Tuesday, with the Saturday’s semi-final second leg also at AAMI Park.
“To be honest, we’re well and truly in this tie. This is the first-half, we’re 1-0 down,” United coach John Aloisi said. “We’re back here. We don’t have to go away, we don’t have to play away from home. We’re back here so pleased with the performance.
“Obviously, we would have liked to have grabbed a goal and grabbed something out of the game but excited about Saturday night now and I can see our boys excited too because they felt it. They felt it after the game, they were like ’wow we can give them some game on Saturday’.”
Aloisi was not fazed by the prospect of Victory sitting back for 90 minutes on Saturday.
“If they sit back, no problem. We’ll create a chance like we created [late in Tuesday’s game]” he said. “If they come to press us, no problem. We’ll play a certain way. We’re ready for whatever they try and do and we’ll play our game.
“We don’t have to panic because it’s one goal. We don’t have to try and think that we have to do something completely different … nothing drastic has to change.”
United will welcome back Steven Lustica (calf) on Saturday but Rene Khrin’s hamstring injury is season-ending. Aloisi was confident the playing field would be more even on Saturday after United navigated a shorter turnaround before the first leg.
Victory counterpart Tony Popovic relished the “slender advantage” but stressed the importance of backing up.
“We can’t sit here and say we’re not pleased that we won the match, we are,” he said. “But we understand that it’s another game to come and we expect another tough battle as we had today. Hopefully this advantage can help us on Saturday.
“It is different. You play a team home and away and you play in the same venue, four days apart. It’s something that we’re not accustomed to, of course. But I feel that we’ll have a lot more support come Saturday, I think we’ll have a fantastic crowd.
“We’re halfway to achieving this part of the goal and that’s making a grand final.”