Not even a dramatic semi-final triumph could soften Kevin Muscat's feud with Graham Arnold with the Melbourne Victory coach hitting out against Sydney FC and their coach after his team's thrilling extra-time win.
Victory sealed their passage to the A-League grand final after their 3-2 triumph at Allianz Stadium that snapped their seven-game losing streak to the Sky Blues and appeared to only escalate the tense rivalry between the two clubs.
Fired up: Kevin Muscat used the taunts of Sydney FC as motivation for his side.
Muscat praising the courageous performance of his players to recover from injury set-backs and own goals to clinch a 117th-minute winner away from home, before lashing out at Sydney FC's pre-game taunts and mind games. Much like their 2015 grand final win over the Sky Blues, Muscat revealed he again used Sydney FC's claims of being fitter, better and mentally stronger than the Victory to rally his players.
After ending his rivals' season, Muscat hit back at Arnold and Sydney FC several times during his post-match press conference. It was the last time the two will face-off against one another in a Big Blue as Arnold takes over as Socceroos boss but Muscat did not miss his final chance to claim one over his former teammate.
"For one of their staff members to say they knew the arrogance would catch up with them probably says it all."
"The opposition tonight have never beat us in a final so we’re pretty proud of that record," Muscat said. "We’ve proven many many times that on the big occasion we stand up and I’ve had great battles with Graham over a long period of time and it's sweet that he won’t get the opportunity to turn that one around for quite a while."
Horror ending: Graham Arnold’s reign as Sydney FC boss ended in defeat to their greatest rival.
In particular, Victory's coach took a swipe at Arnold's comments leading into the game thumbing his nose at slogans and references to Sydney's previous seven-match winning streak in the Big Blue.
"As it was coming through the week, haven’t beaten them, 'every time we play Victory' – I’m not allowed to say that word, ‘every time we play Melbourne we win’, ‘Fortress Allianz’. It was great, it was great sitting back in Melbourne listening to it all come in," Muscat said.
Muscat appeared to revel in what he thought was the Sky Blues' cocky approach catching up with them – and he said one of his opponents' staff members concurred.
To the Victory goes the spoils: Muscat’s team celebrate their passage into the A-League grand final.
"Had to put up with a couple of taunts during the week and for one of their staff members to say they knew the arrogance would catch up with them probably says it all," Muscat said. "We got taunted during the week about them being physically better than us – I can’t remember who said it because they all had a go – but whichever player it was I didn’t see us cramping up. [Sydney FC defender Michael] Zullo walking with injury, Bobo cramping up, sometimes when you talk too much it could come back to bite you."
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