A late penalty goal from captain Mark Milligan sealed Melbourne Victory's place in the A-League finals and dented Newcastle's hopes of the same in a 2-2 draw at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.
Newcastle led 2-1 at half-time and created the bulk of the chances in the second half before Jets defender Josh Mitchell, who was on his back, kicked out and fouled Victory striker Archie Thompson in front on goal in the 85th minute.
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Victory secures place in finals
Melbourne Victory have secured a place in the A-League finals after a 2-2 draw against the Newcastle Jets.
Milligan stepped up to the spot and made no mistake to give the visitors a point.
It moved them to 38 points and a guaranteed place in the final six with one round to play. The Jets moved to 33, equal with Sydney, which plays Wellington on Sunday.
Victory coach Kevin Muscat was pleased with the fight and lift in intensity from his side in the second half to grab the crucial point, but he was scathing of his players' first-half effort.
''Before I get too excited about the point, to be honest, my only thoughts now are with the performance,'' Muscat said.
''You can't start a game and gift away possession like we did in the first half, time and time again.''
Socceroo Tom Rogic limped off with a groin injury in the 40th minute but Muscat was unsure of the extent of the problem.
Newcastle stayed in the finals race with the draw and must defeat Adelaide on Friday and rely on Sydney losing at least one of their last two matches to beat them into the top six.
Despite the potentially costly late equaliser, Jets coach Clayton Zane was upbeat about his side's dominant display with the ball.
''It feels almost like a loss now in the change room, but it could be a valuable point,'' Zane said.
''But more than anything I was very happy with the performance tonight, so it's good going into the last game knowing we can play like that. If we can do that against Adelaide next week and results fall our way … you never say never.''
Newcastle led 2-1 at the break after a four-minute goal frenzy midway through the half. The Jets looked good early and threatened when Adam Taggart shot just wide in the fifth minute and Ruben Zadkovich cannoned a strike into the crossbar in the eighth.
Taggart made no mistake with his next chance, sliding between two defenders to take a beautiful Emile Heskey through-ball and side-foot it past Nathan Coe in the 18th minute. Victory equalised in the 20th minute when an unmarked Adrian Leijer headed a corner from deep at the far post.
Milligan's lunging header near the line made sure of it.
But Newcastle regained the lead at the 22nd minute when Josh Brillante pounced on the scraps of a goal-mouth scramble and smashed a shot into the post. It ricocheted off the back of Leijer and into goal.
Western Sydney Wanderers drew 1-1 with Brisbane Roar at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday night. Liam Miller scored for Brisbane in the 35th minute and Tomi Juric levelled the score for the Wanderers in the 61st minute.