MELBOURNE : Melbourne City beat Melbourne Victory 2-1 on Wednesday, nearly four months after a violent pitch invasion led to the abandonment of the A-League derby after 21 minutes of play on Dec. 17.
The match resumed from the 22nd minute with City retaining the 1-0 lead they held when fans invaded the pitch injuring security staff, a referee and City goalkeeper Tom Glover, who was left bloodied after being struck in the face by a metal bucket.
Aiden O’Neill, who had scored in the 11th minute before the match was halted, put City 2-0 ahead with a thunderous strike in the 57th minute.
Victory struck late on through Nishan Velupillay but City held on to move five points ahead of second-placed Adelaide United.
The decision to complete the match was polarising, with some media pundits saying Victory should have forfeited the points to City.
“The Australian Professional Leagues should be doing all it can to remove the stain of those events, not actively revisiting them,” said prominent TV and radio commentator Gerard Whateley.
The pitch invasion shocked the nation, with former Socceroos goalkeeper Danny Vukovic describing it as the “darkest day for football in Australia”.
It came days after the A-League announced a deal to sell its men’s and women’s title-deciding Grand Finals to Sydney until 2025, a decision that triggered a major fan backlash. Hosting rights for Grand Finals were previously given to the top-finishing teams.
Football Australia issued long stadium bans to a number of the pitch invaders and handed Melbourne Victory A$450,000 ($303,000) in fines and “significant” sporting sanction.
The club was also handed a suspended 10-point deduction to be triggered by any incidents of “serious supporter misconduct” for the current season and the three following.
($1 = 1.4859 Australian dollars)