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Victory beat City to reach ALW grand final

Melbourne Victory are confident their fresh finals momentum will hold them in good stead when they attempt to go back-to-back in their second A-League Women grand final against Sydney FC in as many seasons.

Victory continued their remarkable late-season turnaround, after being winless in five games before finals, by beating Melbourne City 3-1 in Sunday’s preliminary final, after previously upsetting Adelaide United.

They will have seven days before next Sunday’s grand final while Sydney had the week off after previously beating City in their semi-final but Victory coach Jeff Hopkins was confident the shorter rest wasn’t a drawback.

“It depends how you use your rest,” Hopkins said.

“I’m glad that we’re coming in after two weeks of two good performances where we’ve created chances and scored goals and we keep rolling on.

“You could see they were really focused yesterday and today. Maybe a little bit nervous but I’m really proud of the effort they put in.

“Very pleased with the amount of chances that we created.”

Fringe Matilda Alex Chidiac was everywhere for Victory on Sunday, turning in a dominant performance that City coach Rado Vidosic likened to the energy of three players.

“I don’t know where she gets her energy from but she was excellent today,” Hopkins said.

City were without veterans Melissa Barbieri and Tyla-Jay Vlajnic, who were sent off in their semi-final loss to Sydney, while Victory welcomed Kyra Cooney-Cross back from suspension.

Victory snatched the lead on the half-hour mark when City skipper Emma Checker attempted to pass across her body and Melina Ayres forced a turnover, before coolly finishing past Sally James.

They doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when Courtney Nevin floated a lovely corner to the back post, where Claudia Bunge toe-poked a volley home.

Eight minutes into the second half, Chidiac danced past several defenders then whipped in a cross, with Ayres teeing up skipper Lia Privitelli to smash home Victory’s third goal.

City’s Tori Tumeth glanced home Rhianna Pollicina’s corner in the 80th minute to give City hope.

Four minutes later, Hannah Wilkinson put a back-post header wide, and Victory held on from there.

“If we look at the whole season I can’t explain how proud I am of what they have achieved and how well they played,” Vidosic said of his City team.

“Maybe, unfortunately, we had probably our worst game on this most important day of the season for us.”

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