Sydney FC secured their first A-League Premiers' Plate and an Asian Champions League berth with a stunning 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday.
A first-half wonder goal to midfielder Karol Kisel, and arguably an even better strike by the in-form John Aloisi in the second, saw Sydney leap above Melbourne to finish the home-and-away season a point clear atop the ladder.
It is the first time Sydney have claimed the minor premiership and it gives them a huge mental boost heading into their opening match of the finals series, the major semi-final first leg against the Victory at Etihad Stadium on Thursday night.
The win couldn't have come in more spectacular fashion in front of 25,407 fans - Sydney's biggest home crowd of the season - and it came despite the early loss of captain Steve Corica to a hamstring injury.
Corica, who will retire at season's end, had to be substituted for Brendan Gan in the 18th minute but it failed to dampen Sydney's spirits with Kisel opening the scoring from 25 metres out in the 34th minute.
Striker Alex Brosque headed the ball into the Slovak international's path and he hit a first-tome volley which looped and spun over Victory 'keeper Mitch Langerack and into the net.
It was something special, but Aloisi's 49th-minute effort was undoubtedly one of the goals of the season.
The former Socceroos striker collected the ball five metres inside his own half, turned inside Leigh Broxham and made a brilliant run before unleashing an unstoppable drive from 20m out.
It was Aloisi's ninth goal of the season and third in two weeks, continuing his resurgence after a dismal first season with the Sky Blues.
"It's a great feeling, Sydney FC have never won a minor premiership before," Aloisi said. "Now we want to go on and win the final."
Victory, missing key men Archie Thompson and Kevin Muscat through injury and suspension respectively, weren't without their chances to score.
Nik Mrdja came closest, striking the right upright in the 57th minute after outmuscling Simon Colosimo in the box while Carlos Hernandez was denied by a good Clint Bolton save late on.
Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka paid tribute to the hard work of the team.
“We had a real desire to succeed. I appreciate all the players, they worked very hard. I would also like to congratulate all the fans," he said.
“It's a great experience for me winning this title. I enjoy every training session and I’m enjoying life in Sydney.”
Victory will welcome back Muscat for Thursday's match but could be without Robbie Kruse, who will undergo scans on Monday after fears he broke his leg with 10 minutes remaining.
Sections of the crowd, including Victory's visiting fans, were set upon by police and security at one stage after flares were lit following Kisel's goal.
Gold Coast will host Newcastle on Saturday and Wellington are home to Perth on Sunday in next week's sudden-death semi-final.
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