SCENES! Late drama sees City & Knights come from behind to secure Cup semi-final berths

Melbourne City and Melbourne Knights booked their place in the 2023 Australia Cup semi-finals in dramatic circumstances, both coming from behind to win their respective quarter-finals in second-half stoppage time.

City saw off NPL South Australia premiers MetroStars 2-1, with Curtis Good and Tolgay Arslan firing home goals late to secure Rado Vidosic’s side’s place in the final four, while Melbourne Knights came from two down to defeat rivals Heidelberg United 3-2 – with Mitch Hore scoring a stunning late winner.

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The reigning Isuzu UTE A-League premiers – who were without a host of star players including reigning Golden Boot winner Jamie Maclaren, Socceroos winger Mathew Leckie and Andrew Nabbout – were pushed to the limit by Metro, who didn’t die wondering on Thursday night.

Austin Ayoubi fired Danny Graystone’s side into the lead and it looked with just under ten minutes remaining that Metro would be on their way to the unlikeliest of Cupsets, before Good equalised for City in the 84th minute.

However, a controversial moment in second-half stoppage time proved to be the difference between the two sides, as City were awarded a penalty in the dying minutes.

Referee Shaun Evans pointed to the spot after Metro keeper Isaac Carmody’s challenge on City substitute Harrison Shillington, much to the chagrin of the home side and their fans at TK Shutter Reserve, who felt the youngster went down lightly.

Arslan stood up and had his spot-kick saved by Carmody, before firing home on the rebound to secure the victory for City, who denied Metro an almighty Cupset.

Post-game, Network 10 pundits Luke Wilkshire and Phil Moss both weighed in on the penalty decision.

“They (Metro) didn’t sit back, they entertained and bitterly disappointed to go out on what we could call a soft penalty,” Wilkshire said about Metro’s defeat.

Moss added: “I’m not convinced that was a penalty. I thought it was shoulder to shoulder and the contact was limited. A big, big decision at that stage of the game, dramatic scenes.

“I would have liked to have seen it play on and see where the game ended.”

It’s a second comeback victory for Vidosic’s new look City so far on this Cup run, having come from behind to defeat 2022 NPL Victoria champions Oakleigh Cannons in the Round of 32, before comfortably beating Wellington Phoenix 3-0 in the following round.

Their were promising signs for City fans, with Arslan putting in yet another bright showing and adding a fourth goal in three games, while fellow midfielders Hamza Sakhi and Terry Antonis shone – with the latter getting the assist for Good’s equaliser.

City’s focus will now turn to their opening Asian Champions League fixture next Wednesday when they take on Ventforet Kofu at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, before their first Cup semi-final since 2019.

Meanwhile, Vidosic’s charges are joined by the fast finishing Knights, who advance to the semis as the only member federation representative following Metro’s loss.

Ben Cahn’s side were down 2-0 early against the Bergers, after Adrian Zahra and Kaine Sheppard fired home two goals in the space of three minutes, before Gian Albano pulled one back for Knights moments later.

Heidelberg midfielder Anthony Lesiotis was sent off with 10 minutes remaining, which opened the door for Knights who levelled through substitute Lars Anton Kinnander in the 90th minute.

Hore would then be the hero, firing home from range to send Knights Stadium into delirium as one of Victoria’s proudest clubs secured their place in the semis for the first time in the club’s history.

“Look, we knew how big Melbourne Knights was back in the day and we want to bring all the supporters back. Look at this atmosphere. It’s incredible,” Socceroo, now Knights defender Ivan Franjic said on Network 10.

“That’s the team we’ve been all season. We’ve changed the culture this year. Knights have done excellent over the years and credit to the boys.

“What a come back. What a win. It’s great for football in this country.”

Securing a place in a Cup semi is the latest incredible accolade in the young coaching career of Cahn, who has been credited with turning Knights around this season since arriving from NPL Queensland side Olympic FC, having also led them to a first NPL Victoria finals appearance since 2015.

Cahn has been floated as a possible candidate to replace outgoing head coach Nick Montgomery at the Central Coast Mariners, the club he once worked at between 2015-17 in a myriad of different roles, including assistant coach.

“I’m really happy for Ben Cahn right now,” Moss said.

“He’s a young coach on the rise. He’s left his comfort zone, of Queensland, he’s done it all up there.

“He’s gone down to Melbourne and as Ivan just said, there he’s changed the culture and you can see it in your toughest moments when you’re two-nil down in a Cup game. That’s when your culture shines through and they found a way to win that game tonight.”

Both sides will now face the winners of this weekend’s fixtures between Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC and Western United in the semi-finals.


MetroStars 1-2 Melbourne City
 T.K. Shutter Reserve

Melbourne Knights 3-2 Heidelberg United
 Knights Stadium