Part-timers Avondale FC came close to a shock in the FFA Cup by taking A-League side Sydney FC to extra-time before succumbing 4-2 in their quarterfinal on Wednesday night.
Milos Ninkovic and debutant Adam Le Fondre scored late to deny the Victorian NPL upstarts a place in the last four.
FFA Cup specialist Liam Boland cancelled out Trent Buhagiar's first-half double with his own brace after half-time, igniting the 1566-strong crowd at Broadmeadows.
Buhagiar timed a far-post run perfectly...
Avondale FC's audacious play for Andrea Pirlo is further proof the FFA Cup quarterfinalists are nothing if not hugely ambitious.
Retired Italian great Pirlo won't be dusting off his boots to make a one-off appearance against Sydney FC on Wednesday night, as Avondale's volunteer committee had dreamed.
But considering where they've come from, it's amazing they had a crack at him at all.
For most of their lifespan, Avondale have been just another amateur soccer club plodding around in Melbourne's north-west.
Sydney FC have signed ex-Premier League player Siem de Jong as their marquee player on a season-long loan from Dutch giants Ajax.
The former Netherlands international, who can play as attacking midfielder or striker, scored two goals in six national team appearances and captained Ajax for two seasons.
He won four Eredivisie league titles in his first spell with the club from 2008 to 2014 and also played in the Champions League.
The 29-year-old de Jong tallied 22 appearances for Newcastle United...
There was no sign of Keisuke Honda but another Japanese player stole the show as APIA Leichhardt Tigers stunned Melbourne Victory 3-2 in the FFA Cup on Tuesday night.
Tasuku Sekiya scored a goal in each half as the former National Soccer League club booked a quarterfinal spot in a thrilling clash at Leichhardt Oval.
It was the seventh time a state-league outfit has managed to beat a top-tier team in the knockout tournament, but this was perhaps the biggest shock yet.
The A-League champions were...