National Premier League New South Wales side Sydney United 58 made Australian football history on Sunday as they became the first non-top-flight team to qualify for the Australia Cup final, after they had beaten A-League Men side Brisbane Roar 3-2 in the semifinal.
On-loan Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo attacking midfielder Riku Danzaki had given the Roar the lead in the 13th minute at a packed Sydney United Sports Center, before the hosts equalized in the 24th minute through Matthew Billic’s effort. Brisbane was then given a chance to regain the lead before half-time in the second minute of stoppage time, however captain Jay O’Shea saw his penalty being saved by Danijel Nizic.
Brisbane were awarded with another penalty in the 63rd minute after Taisei Kaneko had fouled Henry Hore in the area, and this time Charlie Austin made no mistake from the spot as the former Queens Park Rangers danger man managed to beat Nizic with his shot.
However, Sydney United had other things to say as they drew level once again in the 71st minute, substitute Patrick Antelmi striking home past Brisbane goalie Macklin Freke with virtually his first touch of the game.
The 2-2 draw lasted until the end of 90 minutes, forcing extra-time to be played. And it was there, in the 105th minute, that Sydney United found their spark of inspiration to finally overturn the tie in their favor, with another substitute in Glen Trifiro volleying in a superb shot past Freke to finally give the hosts the lead.
Sydney United clung onto their slim advantage tightly to see out the win and they did just that, the referee’s final whistle ensuring a euphoric pitch invasion that celebrated Sydney United’s success. As the first non A-League Men team to qualify into the Australian Cup final since its inception in 2014, Sydney United have proven that the semi-pros has what it take to keep up with the top-flight big boys.
For their date with destiny, Sydney United will face either another A-League Men side in Macarthur FC or National Premier League Victoria outfit Oakleigh Cannons. The two teams will play their semifinal match on Wednesday at Oakleigh’s Jack Edwards Reserve in the Melbourne suburbs.