A Jesse Makarounas brace has helped Melbourne Victory to a 3-2 win in their FFA Cup round of 16 match against Rockdale City Suns.
The victory was anything but comfortable for the A-League champions though as Rockdale took the match right to them on Wednesday night at Jubilee Oval.
Victory looked good for the opening 10 minutes of the match before an inspired Rockdale featuring former A-League starters Dylan Macallister, Marko Jesic, Paul Reid and Ivan Necevski showed their wares.
Macallister was instrumental early on, linking up with fellow forwards Toufic Alameddine and Hristijan Tanoski to cause the Victory defence several problems.
But it took 17 minutes for them to trouble Victory keeper Danny Vukovic for the first time when Alameddine had a skimming shot saved.
From there they piled on the pressure, but couldn't find the final touch - the best chance falling to Tanoski who headed wide of the Victory goal when unmarked at the far post.
Victory found the net in the 20th minute through Besart Berisha but he saw that effort disallowed due to offside.
The Victorians made the most of a counter late in the half with Makarounas smashing a strike home after good lead up work from Daniel Georgievski and Fahid Ben Khalfallah.
The second half saw a fired-up Victory extend their lead through a diving header to Berisha, who took advantage of a great ball from Ben Khalfallah before Rockdale hit back through a penalty.
Tanovski's strike hit the outstretched arm of Thomas Deng and Katie Patterson gave the penalty.
Former Newcastle Jet Jesic calmly stroked it into the bottom left corner of Vukovic's goal, sending him the wrong way.
Minutes later the Suns had a penalty shout turned away when Carl Valeri slid at the legs of Jesic right on the edge of the area - replays showing he made contact just inside the box.
Makarounas made it 3-1 in the 64th minute when a superb curling strike beat the diving Necevski, bursting the side-netting.
Rockdale didn't give up though and with a few minutes left chaos ensued when Leigh Broxham deflected one past Vukovic.
From there Rockdale went up a gear and had repeated corners in the last minute but just couldn't beat desperate Victory defenders.
Meanwhile Western Sydney Wanderers continued to put their inaugural FFA Cup blunder behind them by winning 2-0 over Palm Beach Sharks thanks to goals from Brendan Hamill and Delgado Morgado.
Hume City beat Sydney Olympic 3-1 with former Victory and Valencia attacker Theo Markelis stroking home the key goal.
The last team into the final eight were Oakleigh Cannons, who took advantage of a goalkeeping blunder from MetroStars keeper Daniel Godley to win 1-0, with Mirjan Pavlovic scoring the goal.
Victory now face Adelaide United in the quarter-finals but coach Kevin Muscat thinks they would have to improve significantly when they take on the Reds.
"It wasn't great tonight," he said.
"It should be an entertaining game (against Adelaide), now that both teams have got something to lose. There was only one team with something to lose tonight and in the end we just hung on."
Victory striker Berisha was equally unhappy with the effort but gave plenty of praise to the Suns.
"We can play much better - but full credit to Rockdale - they played really good and I have respect for their performance," he said.
Rockdale captain/coach, former Sydney FC player Reid was very happy with the effort of his team, even if they were unlucky.
"We went into halftime 1-0 down and I think we had the better chances. At the end of the day we can take a lot of pride in the performance," he said.
"A bit of luck towards the end we might have got a draw and forced it into extra time."