Melbourne Victory has claimed the W-League Premiership and, in the process, sealed two historic firsts for the competition.
— Melbourne Victory (@gomvfc) February 1, 2019
Head Coach Jeff Hopkins side defeated Perth Glory 2-1 at Dorrien Gardens on Friday night to secure the premiership, a 17th-minute header from Christine Nairn putting Victory ahead before Matilda Emily Gielnik made it 2-0 in the 35th.
Though they had to survive a nervy second half that was highlighted by a goal to superstar Sam Kerr in the 55th minute, Victory was able to hold strong.
The result means that, with a game against Canberra on Tuesday night remaining in hand, Victory has secured their first W-League Premiership in the club’s history and will host a semi-final against Glory next week.
It caps off a remarkable, three-year rebuilding project by Hopkins, who took over at AAMI Park in 2016.
Wooden spooners in his first season in charge, Victory improved to seventh in Hopkins second year in Navy Blue before he guided them to first this year on the back of standout campaigns from the likes of Nairn, Gielnik, Laura Alleway and talismanic captain Natasha Dowie – who has nine goals on the season so far.
2017/19 Premiers Brisbane Roar, who finished the W-League season in second place on the table, will host Sydney FC in the other semi-final.
Victory’s one-goal margin of triumph also means that, for the first time in the club’s existence, Melbourne City will miss out on playing finals football – Rado Vidosic’s side needing their crosstown foes to down the West Australians by a five-goal margin to keep their season alive.
Three-time defending W-League champions, City had been able to scrape into the finals in the fourth position on the table in the two previous W-League campaigns but, despite their 2-0 defeat of Sydney FC on Thursday night, they will year be absent thanks to their inferior goal difference.
Clearly missing the presence of standout performer Jess Fishlock, who spent the W-League season playing in France with Olympique Lyonnais, City struggled to find the back of the net in 2018/19; frequently dominating opponents only to be let down by their lack of lethality in the final third of the pitch.