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May 20, 2022   |  3:19PM AET

‘What the hell have you just done?’: When Antonis went from ‘zero to hero’ in classic ALM semi

‘What the hell have you just done?’: When Antonis went from ‘zero to hero’ in classic ALM semi

“Antonis had no right to get through there, really. But still he goes on…

“O’Neill giving chase forlornly…

“Still Terry Antonis! Has we won it for Victory? The villain turned hero in navy blue runs to accept the adulation of the Victory fans! Are they headed to a sixth Grand Final?”

They’re the words of commentator Simon Hill now immortalised, accompanying one of the great moments of individual brilliance in A-Leagues finals history. 

Terry Antonis, in a 2018 semi-final classic between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC, collecting possession inside his defensive half, beating two Sky Blues challengers, driving past a third and lashing the winning goal into the back of the net, 116 minutes into a game locked at 2-2 and destined for penalties.

A game he so nearly lost for Victory with a 94th-minute own goal to send it to extra time.

Antonis is consoled by Lawrence Thomas after scoring an own goal against Sydney FC. Broxham (front, left) gets his head ready for extra time.

Victory’s Leigh Broxham was stood on the goal line in that moment, with players rushing back to repel the latest of a series of late Sydney attacks.

“You could probably tell what I was thinking with my face when Terry blasted in the own goal,” Broxham tells KEEPUP.

“I think we had been under the pump for a few minutes as well. They hit the crossbar, they were pumping the ball into the box.

“It felt like we’d weathered the storm of those balls coming into the box. There was no danger.

“Then Tezza just absolutely blasted it into the top of the net.

“I couldn’t believe it. There was no-one around him, there wasn’t anybody there – there wasn’t an attacker coming in or anything. 

“I think I was just like: ‘What the hell have you just done?’”

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And so the game progressed into 30 minutes of extra time. Broxham admits he wasn’t one of the Victory players who looked to help Antonis to refocus in the aftermath of his blunder.

“I can remember, there were people like Carl Valeri who got right around him, and I think Terry would say to this day that Carl was able to put aside his emotion,” Broxham said. “At that time, I really didn’t say too much to Terry.

“Carl at that time was the one… (he) said a couple of quiet words to him to ensure he kept going for the rest of the game.

“I remember at the time, reflecting after thinking I should have helped him more through those moments. But like I said, I remember Valeri stayed pretty calm and got right around him, and said a few things to him. As a player, nothing anyone could say at that point is going to make you feel any better, or make you focus or anything like that.

“To his credit he turned it right around. From zero to hero – literally.”

 Broxham was stood in the middle of the park as the game ticked into its 117th minute. After going so close to winning in regular time, the prospect of penalties loomed large in his mind.

This was, as Broxham was keen to point out, the second year in succession Victory had travelled to face the Sky Blues at Sydney Football Stadium in the finals. In 2018 it was a semi, but the season prior it was the Grand Final. Sydney won that game on penalties.

The Sky Blues celebrate 2017 Grand Final victory.

 Antonis put responsibility on his shoulders to atone for his blunder and write his name into A-League finals folklore.

“You’re just hoping someone like him was going to grab the game and do something special like that,” Broxham said.

“I was in the middle of the park watching him run away with the ball. When it went in I couldn’t have been any happier. I couldn’t really see us scoring any other way other than a special moment like that at the end of that game.”

A moment of pure ecstasy for Victory fans, and relief for Antonis which sent Kevin Muscat’s side on their way to becoming champions.

“It was a frantic time,” Broxham adds. “You don’t know in that situation if the same thing would happen 10 times out of 10. It ended up creating a great story, I guess.”

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