‘Maybe football is waiting for the last dance’

When Bruno Fornaroli fronted the media after Melbourne Victory fired a blank against Wellington Phoenix, the Socceroo looked unperturbed.

Victory’s talisman stood tall with a bullishness about his team’s chances after Sunday’s 0-0 draw with the Phoenix in the Isuzu UTE A-League Semi-Final first leg at AAMI Park.

The four-time champions, who have not reached the Grand Final since 2018, mustered 20 shots and five on target but they could not find a way past a Wellington team that has created history throughout the season.

Get your tickets to the second leg of Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory’s Semi-Final clash at Sky Stadium!

“You know, it’s football,” Fornaroli told reporters after the match.

“A lot of the games we deserved to win against them. (Sunday) was another case.

“So maybe football is waiting for the last dance.”

Victory – who finished 11 points adrift of second-placed Wellington during the regular season – now head across the Tasman for a blockbuster return leg that could be played in front of a capacity crowd at Sky Stadium on Saturday.

STATE OF PLAY: All the details about the Semi-Final second legs with a Grand Final on the line

They do so having failed to beat Wellington in any of their four previous meetings this season (L1 D3).

“There’s another 90 minutes, we believe in our football,” insisted Fornaroli.

“I think we showed tonight (Sunday) what we can do.

“It’s about now to repeat again in Wellington. We know it will be difficult, but we deserved tonight maybe to win the game.”

Fornaroli has scored 18 goals in 23 appearances this season, however, the 36-year-old is in the midst of a five-match drought.

The veteran has not scored since April’s derby win over Melbourne City.

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“It’s no worry,” he replied. “I’m happy after the last result in the Derby (Elimination Final win).

“Even if I have not scored, today I am calm, I am happy as well. I still believe my chance will come.”

Get your tickets to the second leg of Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory’s Semi-Final clash at Sky Stadium!

Meanwhile, Phoenix star Kosta Barbarouses explained why he believes Wellington have what it takes to cap a fairytale season by claiming a first ever major title.

With rookie head coach Giancarlo ‘Chiefy’ Italiano at the helm, the Phoenix – who were tipped to finish bottom by some pundits – have defied the odds to make history, securing their best-ever finish after placing second behind Central Coast Mariners in the regular season and their highest points total among other achievements.

‘I’M PUMPED’: Chiefy’s message to Wellington Phoenix fans as history awaits after classy press-conference gesture

Saturday will be the first time the Phoenix host an Isuzu UTE A-League Semi-Final in their pursuit of a first piece of silverware.

“Resilience, discipline and everyone’s just on board with what ‘Chiefy’, the boss, has wanted to do all year,” Barbarouses said post-game.

“It hasn’t been without its twists and turns and Chiefy is a very interesting character. He sort of changes things at will during the week and everyone just adapts to it.

“Look, we all just have a lot of respect for each other.

“We’ve got a good mix of young and old and everything in between. And it’s just been a good mixture of everything.”