Scenes! Victory defender scores in 95th AND 98th minute in incredible comeback win

INCREDIBLE! Defender’s stoppage-time brace seals dramatic win for Victory

Centre-back Damien Da Silva was the orchestrator of a dramatic Melbourne Victory comeback on Tuesday night, turning his side’s agony into ecstasy with two stoppage-time goals in a 2-1 win over Western United.

Western led through Daniel Penha’s strike on the hour mark but with 95 minutes on the clock Da Silva brought Victory level with a far post header before a clinical strike three minutes later to steal all three points soon after in a breathless end to the action at AAMI Park. 

John Aloisi’s Western was within minutes of recording back-to-back clean sheets and wins for the first time this season before Da Silva’s unexpected brace turned the game on its head and sealed all three points for Victory.

Watch Da Silva’s two stoppage-time goals in the player above.

Da Silva’s second of the night was Victory’s 800th goal in Isuzu UTE A-League history; the landmark goal snapped a six-game winless run and helped Tony Popovic’s side into third spot on the table.

Only Victory and Sydney FC have breached the 800-goal mark in A-Leagues history – and the two clubs have done so within 10 days of one another.

The first half featured disallowed goals at both ends and several nearly moments, but neither side could break the deadlock by the break.

Jake Brimmer came close with a rasping strike from range, but the shot faded just wide of the top-right corner – as did his free-kick just before the half-hour mark; goalkeeper Thomas Heward-Belle was beaten on both occasions but Brimmer couldn’t find the target.

Victory thought they had the opener in the 20th minute when Kane Vidmar bundled a set piece delivered by Brimmer into his own net, but the offside flag spared the young Western defender’s blushes.

The officiating team adjudged Da Silva was in an offside position as he played at the ball before it landed on Vidmar’s lap at the back post. The on-field call stood as play resumed at 0-0.

Angus Thurgate then sparked Western into life, striking on target from outside the box. He would have found the opening goal if not for a fingertip save from Paul Izzo to push the ball over the crossbar.

Thurgate did find the back of the net from the resulting corner, but again the whistle brought an end to the celebrations. Referee Jonathan Barreiro deemed Izzo was blocked by a number of Western bodies in the goal mouth as the corner delivery found its way to an unmarked Thurgate to head home at the back post.

Bruno Fornaroli was back in the starting XI after missing Saturday’s Melbourne Derby due to surgery on his fractured left hand and he almost found the opener in the 36th minute. His shot from Nishan Velupillay’s cutback cross was on target but Vidmar got back to make a goal-saving clearance.

Penha added to the first-half nearly moments from a driven free-kick that pierced Victory’s wall but rose just too high as Izzo watched it safely over the crossbar.

Another goal was disallowed early in the second half when Noah Botic was played through on goal and took the ball around Izzo to tap into an open net only to see the offside flag raised.

But then came a moment of class from Penha to break the deadlock. The Brazilian took possession on the edge of the area and quickly shifted his feet to fire the ball into the bottom-right corner.

Western kept their first clean sheet of the season last weekend and Heward-Belle showed his intention to make it two from two shortly after his side’s opening goal when he tipped Roderick Miranda’s close-range header around the post in a superb piece of glovework.

Victory’s frustrations continued to mount as they upped the ante in search of an equaliser.

Chris Ikonomidis failed to connect with a header from close range just minutes after coming off the bench before Daniel Arzani whipped a dangerous ball into space at the back post only to see none of his teammates arriving to tap home.

Down but not out, Victory persisted to pepper Western’s inexperienced defensive line and in the sixth minute of added time, the dam wall finally broke as Da Silva rose high to head Daniel Arzani’s looping cross past Heward-Belle.

It looked as though Da Silva had snatched Victory a late point – but he went one better in the 98th minute to turn the game on its head; Arzani was once again the provider, slipping the central defender down the right side of the box to thump home the dramatic winner.

“He’s done it!” Cried Paramount+ commentator Robbie Thomson as the French defender’s second goal in three minutes rippled the back of the net.

“Damien Da Silva with two goals in three minutes! The veteran French defender has broken the hearts of John Aloisi and Western United, and Victory, in the most unlikely of circumstances, are surely back in the winner’s circle!”

Post-game, pitchside reporter Michael Zappone summed up Da Silva’s heroics best:

“Who would’ve thought he’d be the hero?”

Post-game, Victory head coach Tony Popovic lauded second-half substitute Daniel Arzani for his impact in turning the game on its head.

Arzani was brought off the bench for the second half and was involved in a number of nearly moments, both in chance creation and execution, before supplying the two assists for Da Silva’s match-winning brace.

“They all made an impact, Daniel in particular,” Popovic said of his substitutes.

“I thought the last 20 minutes of the game he really stood up with personality and made a difference, and set up both goals. It’s a credit to him.

“I’m really delighted for the whole group because it’s an outstanding result after a short turnaround, and I thought it was well deserved by the players.”

Popovic added: ““With this group, I feel anything is possible.”

Arzani (left) celebrates with his Victory teammates.