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Apr 23, 2012

Berisha no diver: Brisbane Roar skipper

Debate might rage over Besart Berisha's controversial A-League grand final penalty, but Brisbane captain Matt Smith said it would be "disgraceful" to accuse the extroverted Roar striker of diving.

Smith felt compelled to defend Berisha's honour on Monday after the larger-than-life marksman emerged as the villain in Perth Glory fans' eyes in the wake of the unforgettable 2-1 win at a packed Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

The Glory claimed they were robbed after Berisha earned - and converted - a match-winning stoppage-time penalty despite some replays suggesting he stumbled following an air swing.

But Smith was adamant Berisha was no diver.

"I find it disgraceful. I have been listening to media reports all morning that Perth were robbed - excuse me?" Smith said.

"I looked at it in real time and thought it was a penalty.

"I saw the replays this morning and his left foot is clipped (by the Glory's Liam Miller) - people who can't see that must be blind.

"Bes is five yards from goal. Do you think he will be taking an air swing?

"Bes is one of the most honest guys. He wouldn't be taking a dive like that."

Berisha made plenty of headlines this season - sometimes for the wrong reasons.

He had scored a record-equalling 19 regular-season goals - but was also remembered for challenging Sydney FC's Pascal Bosschaart to a post-match fight in January, earning a one-match ban.

But it paled in comparison to the post-match reaction to his penalty.

At one stage, referee Jarred Gillett's Wikipedia entry was laced with expletives as angry fans vented their spleen.

If Berisha was upset by the controversy, he didn't show it when he triumphantly arrived at the Roar headquarters on Monday still wearing his championship medal.

"I am used to this in Australia. Every time we play good football and win an important game, they find something else to talk about," the Albanian international said.

"It's a shame, because there was a touch (from Miller).

"I just saw some photographs and you can see clearly the touch.

"But this is the way it goes. Whoever loses will never accept that - this is normal, this is football.

"But at the end of the day, we are the better team - everyone knows that."

Roar coach Ange Postecoglou said Berisha was an "easy target" after the controversial win but had no problem with the penalty, which was also backed by A-League referees boss Mark Shield on Monday.

"People always look for a villain," Postecoglou said.

"He's an easy target, I guess. But all he tried to do was try to score the winning goal after scoring a superb first one (to equalise).

"Beyond that, I think everything else was beyond his control. I didn't see him do anything wrong."

Smith dismissed a suggestion that video technology would have avoided controversy on Sunday.

"When I watch other games and I see key decisions go up to the panel, sometimes they take two or three minutes to make a decision - it kills the game," he said.

"In football, sometimes you get the decisions and sometimes you don't."

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