Epifano magic secures South a famous derby and FFA Cup win

Three late goals has given South Melbourne an unforgettable victory over the Melbourne Knights in Friday night’s FFA Cup match at Lakeside Stadium.

After going behind early in the second half, Milos Lujic calmly slotted a penalty with 10 minutes remaining to level the scores, before Nick Epifano scored two memorable goals as South clinched a famous victory against their greatest rivals.

The win also ended Andy Brennan’s time at the club on a high, with the Tasmanian playing a key role in his final game with South before he joins Newcastle Jets in the A-League.

Chris Taylor’s men were keen to ensure there was no repeat of last year’s corresponding fixture, where Knights caused a major upset at Lakeside to knock South of the running for the FFA Cup finals.

Knights were the first team to settle and looked likely to score throughout the first half, with a sensational double block from Thomas Lakic enough to prevent Chris Talajic from scoring.

Andy Brennan later had an opportunity to score after a great ball from Epifano, however the Knights’ Chris May made a smart save to deny the departing Tasmanian.

The game started to heat up when Tim Mala and Stipo Anrdijasevic each received a yellow after an alteraction on the far side of the ground.

Lakic then made his second contribution of the night when he cleared a shot off the line from Andrew Barisic’s goal bound shot.

Knights piled on the pressure after the restart and always looked like scoring, and their pressure paid off after 53 minutes, with Nikola Roganovic unable to keep out Tomislav Uskok’s powerful header.

South looked more likely to equalise after Chris Taylor brought on Leigh Minopoulos and Andy Kecojevic, however after Milos Lujic’s goal was disallowed, South still trailed 1-0 with 10 minutes remaining.

However, a handball in the box gave South a lifeline, with the ever dependable Milos Lujic calmly converting the resulting penalty to draw scores level after 82 minutes.

Less than 60 seconds later, Nick Epifano scored one of the most memorable goals in recent times. The unpredictable winger sprinted down the left hand side, before cutting inside and placing a looping shot into the top right hand corner, sending the South supporters into raptures.

It was chaos at the ground when Brennan broke on the counter in injury time and centred unselfishly for Epifano, who tapped in his second of the game to praise put the result beyond doubt.

In the dying minutes, both Tomislav Uskok and Nikola Roganovic received red cards for their part in an all in scuffle.

Nevertheless, the game finished 3-1, keeping South in the running for the FFA Cup finals and gicing Andy Brennan the perfect send off.

FINAL SCORE: SOUTH MELBOURNE 3-1 MELBOURNE KNIGHTS (HT: 0-0)

Goal Scorers:
0-1: Tomislav Uskok (53′)
1-1: Milos Lujic (83’p)
2-1: Nick Epifano (84′)
3-1: Nick Epifano (90+1′)

South Melbourne FC:
1. Nikola ROGANOVIC (GK) (sent off 90+2′), 2. Tim MALA, 5. Luke ADAMS, 6. Tom LAKIC (23. Andy KECOJEVIC 81′), 7. Nick EPIFANO, 8. Matthew THEODORE, 9. Milos LUJIC, 11. Brad NORTON (C), 12. Iqi JAWADI, 17. Andy BRENNAN (22. Fraser MacLAREN [GK] 90+3’), 21. Jake BARKER-DAISH (27. Leigh MINOPOULOS 57’).

Unused subs: 19. Massimo PESCE, 20 Nick MORTON.

Melbourne Knights:
1. Chris MAY (GK), 4. Ben SUREY, 5. Milan BATUR, 6. Tomislav USKOK (C) (sent off 90+2′), 7. Chris TALAJIC (10. Marian CVITKOVIC 62′), 8. James McGARRY, 11. Jacob COLOSIMO, 12. Ivan GRGIC, 18. Josh BREKALO, 21. Stipo ANDRIJASEVIC, 27. Andrew BARISIC.

Unused subs: 2. Luke JURCIC, 14. Rodrigo COVARRUBIAS, 25. Michael O’FARRELL.