- Ninkovic hits winning penalty in decider at Allianz Stadium
- Berisha’s opener cancelled out by Grant
It wasn’t pretty – it was never going to be on that pitch – but Sydney’s victory was no less thrilling for it. Did they deserve to win? On the night, it’s difficult to make a case for either side as outright winners – it was that close. In terms of the season, though, there can be no doubt for football traditionalists that the right side won in the end – purely for the way they’ve dominated the campaign from start to finish. It’s a tough, tough defeat for Victory but they can have no shame in the way they played, and but for the lucky draw that is penalties, they might have been celebrating even as I type this.
Anyway that’s it from me for the night – and for the season as it happens. I’ll catch you again in a few months.
Graham Arnold was understandably delighted with his side’s win. “It always seems to take me three years to do this – it was the same at the Mariners… We’ve got a fantastic group of boys and I’m so happy with them and proud of them… it’s not the best way to win, but it’s better than losing. I’ve been on the end of that. My heart goes out to Melbourne Victory.”
Brosque back next year
And Alex Brosque has confirmed he’s staying for at least another year too after rumours of retirement. “I will (be back), it’s a great team. Most of the team are staying – if not all. I’ll be here again next year.”
For the cherry on the cake, Milos Ninkovic has given a strong indication that he’ll be back with Sydney FC next season. “I like these guys too much and I would like to see this team in the Champions League next year, I can’t promise anything but probably I will stay,” he said.
There’s more to come but check out the match report here.
Captain Brosque speaking to the crowd now – thanking the fans and the players. “I don’t think we got anything less than we deserved,” he says before turning to Arnie. “The way you get these boys to lift every single week. It’s been incredible.”
Well they got their in the end – as did my laptop, which seemed to crack under the pressure of penalties. Hats off to Victory who defied the predictions to give Sydney a real scare – they got their tactics spot on for the night and there was nothing to choose between them on the night. On the balance of the season though, no one could deny Sydney were deserving winners.
Georgevski is named Joe Marston medal winner – much to the chagrin of the celebrating Sydney fans. He was outstanding though. Sydney going up for the presentation now.
Ninkovic – who else! – fires it home! Sydney have won!
Vukovic guesses correctly to deny Rojas! Ninkovic will have the chance to win it for Sydney.
O’Neill puts Sydney back in front.
Valeri misses. Sydney are back in it!
Carney bangs it home – Sydney not letting it slip away.
Victory make the most of that miss. They’ve got their noses in front.
Wilkinson hits it wide – Victory have an opening.
Troisi cool as you like into the roof of the net.
Brosque sends the keeper the wrong way with a low strike into the bottom right
The huddles are over, the players are ready. A chance now for the keepers to become heroes. Sydney to go first – Brosque the man stepping forward.
We’ve got ourselves a good old-fashioned shootout folks. Expect to hear the phrases “it’s a lottery” and “a cruel way to lose” shortly.
120 mins: Sydney win a free-kick and the danger passes. Not long until that final whistle.
119 mins: I can’t see a goal coming now – it’s actually been a game of very few chances, despite both sides going for the win. Ingham breaks through but his final shot is blocked and goes for a corner. Last chance for a winner?
116 mins: Victory have only made one substitution so far – which is as confusing (tactically speaking) as it is impressive (physically speaking).
114 mins: Carney with a clear chance, but he skews it wide from just inside the box. Should have done better. Ryall comes on for Buijs, who picked up an injury a couple of minutes ago.
111 mins: The fans are roaring the players on during a much-needed break in play. There’s still time for a twist – but penalties are looming large.
109 mins: Some tired legs out there. And some tired hands in here. Shout out to all my blogging brothers – there’s a chorus of cracking knuckles at laptops from Sydney to Melbourne. Say what you like about the quality of the game, the level of focus and commitment has been outstanding. By rights they should all be out on their feet by now.
107 mins: Oof! So, so close! Troisi cracks a first-time shot off the post and it bounces to safety. Where did that come from?
106mins: I should’ve saved the “Long and Winding Road” reference from my preamble for now. This is all about endurance. Neither side is backing down.
A Berisha header is well saved by Vukovic and that’s it for the half.
105+3 mins: Sydney finishing the end of the 15 mins strongly, but they still can’t find a way through. Rojas goes down and Zullo goes in the book – thought it was a bit harsh myself (he won the ball) but I seem to be in a minority.
103 mins: Starting to get the feeling that if there’s going to be a winner, it’ll come from a mistake. A fair few tired legs out there. O’Neill makes the latest poor pass – hitting it straight to Troisi. Victory fail to make the most of it though.
101 mins: Wilkinson still struggling. Khalfallah comes on for Ingham – that’s the last Victory have seen of their veteran. Off to pastures new next season.
99 mins: Georgevski with a Di Canio-esque volley that slices off his boot to safety – much to the delight of the Sydney fans. The danger doesn’t pass though, Victory get a free-kick that’s chipped deep into the box – for a moment it looks dangerous, but the linesman’s flag is raised. Wilkinson goes down under a challenge from Vukovic. That’s the second time the Sydney shotstopper has cleaned out his own man.
97 mins: Berisha gets a free header in the box – but he doesn’t know much about it, the ball ricocheting off a teammate’s boot and hitting him in the face. Ingham is ready to come on for Victory, who haven’t made a substitution yet.
95 mins: Victory being allowed to play it around in their own defence. Highly unusual for Sydney not to apply at least a little pressure. Victory win a free-kick deep in Sky Blue territory.
93 mins: Strange to see Sydney not pressing as much as they usually do high up the pitch – tiredness or tactics? Carney almost breaks through but plays a poor ball towards Matt Simon that’s easily cut out. It looked like it might have hit a divot.
91mins: Here we go again. Simon goes down under a challenge from Baro, who won the ball fair and square. It’ll be interesting to see the tactics for the next 30 minutes. Will Victory settle for penalties?
Time to take a quick breather – and maybe a shower because that was a pretty dirty 45 minutes.
90+2mins: Who do we fancy in extra time then? Considering they brag about their fitness so much, you’d have to pick the Sky Blues – but then everyone picked the Sky Blues before the game and there’s been nothing between them. Maybe Victory’s decision to take it down a gear and save some stamina in the second half wasn’t so daft after all.
89 mins: Well both teams have thrown everything at each other – including the odd elbow – but it looks like we’re heading to extra time. Carney tries to skip clear down the right but he’s tackled well. Four minutes of added time.
87 mins: It’s been trench warfare out there people, possibly because the pitch does actually resemble a trench in various parts. More elbow-on-face action, though admittedly it wasn’t intentional from Brosque.
85 mins: Zullo goes down after being cracked in the back of the head by his own keeper. Sydney aren’t hanging around though, they race up the other end to put pressure on the Victory defence. A free-kick relieves the pressure.
82 mins: Here we go. Matt Simon is coming on for Bobo. I’m sure the cool, calm head of Simon will stop things from getting out of hand *clears throat loudly*
79 mins: Excellent goalkeeping from Vukovic to shepherd out Troisi. Stood his ground well in a dangerous position. Neither side seems to keen on extra time. Zullo goes in hard on Rojas sparking a sideline confrontation. Graham Arnold isn’t happy.
77 mins: Geria goes in the book for a challenge on Ninkovic. It’d be interesting to see how many of today’s bookings have involved Sydney’s star man.
75 mins: Victory have to be careful now, Sydney have got their tails up and are looking to finish this off in the 90… no sooner have I typed that than Troisi is played in by Berisha, but he scoops the ball over the bar under pressure.
71 mins: It was only ever going to take one chance for Sydney – they’ve been so clinical all year. Victory need to clear their heads and get back into this, they need to find the same intensity they had in the first half. All the momentum with the hosts at the minute.
68 mins: Grant pounces on a rebound to fire home the equaliser from close range! Excellent anticipation as several players stood and stared.
66 mins: A cracking ball into the box from Zullo wins a corner. Wilkinson swings it in but Buijs heads it clear. Sydney starting to turn the screw but time is running out.
64 mins: This is going to be a fascinating final 25 minutes. Sydney have handled everything thrown at them this season – but this is another level of pressure. Victory almost break through but Rojas is offside when he’s played through. Poor decision making from the Victory man, he had time to check his run.
61 mins: Better from Sydney, Carney making an immediate impact during a bit of a goalmouth scramble but Victory get it away. Thirty minutes to go. Victory’s tactic of slowing the game down has worked well so far, conserving stamina as we reach end game. It’s still very risky to invite Sydney onto you though.
59 mins: Holsoko comes off for Carney as Graham Arnold looks to shake things up.
57 mins: It’s all smiles from the Victory fans who are savouring this scoreline. Almost an hour gone and Sydney have been frustrated so far. They haven’t really created much at all in terms of clear chances.
55 mins: Troisi with a cheeky chip from just inside the Sydney half… but it sails straight to Vukovic.
54 mins: Yellow card for Valeri for going through the back of Ninkovic. He can have no excuses… although the tough tackling has kept Sydney’s star man relatively quiet.
50 mins: Risky move from Victory. If it’s a deliberate tactic to calm the game down – it’ll give Sydney heart and more time to probe forward. The Sky Blues almost seize on a Geria mistake but a deflection steers the ball away from the onrushing strikers. Holosko tries to curl one over the keeper but it was always rising. No problem for Thomas.
48 mins: The intensity has definitely gone down a notch after that blood-and-guts opening 45 minutes. Not sure if that’s a deliberate move or just a result of a few tired legs.
46mins: Victory get us under way. Not quite the push-and-shove of the start of the first half but still a bit of niggle. Bit of an arm-wrestle in the middle so far.
“I’m in the slightly awkward position of not really being that fond of either manager and support the Roar but to see Berisha score has tipped my hand Victory’s way. The man is a phenomenon. I also predict a red card before an hour is up.”
Phil Withall via email
The way that half finished I wouldn’t be too surprised if there was a red at some stage – although the referee has handled the pressure well, keeping tempers on the right side of boiling point with a calm hand.
There you go folks, an intense first 45 minutes comes to an end and Victory have their noses in front. Expect to see Sydney the second-half specialists throw everything at them in the next 45. Catch you in 15.
45+2 mins: Looks like Victory are going into the sheds a goal to the good as the last few minutes descend into a midfield scrap.
45 mins: Brillante in the book now for a late challenge on Khalfallah, who screams in agony… but jumps up again quick as you like when the FK is given. The ref has handled the pressure well so far.
44 mins: Sydney finally starting to get on top as the half comes to an end – to be expected considering the intensity Victory started the game. Muscat’s team have been pressing all over the park and it’s worked a treat, but it takes a toll on the legs. They just need to see out these last few minutes.
42 mins: Georgevski with a cool chest down to his keeper just when Sydney were looking dangerous. Calm as you like.
40 mins: This is getting a bit tetchy now. An odd mix of questionable tackles and players falling over a little too easily are causing disquiet in the stands and on the pitch… but Gillett is keeping his whistle quiet. Not a bad job in the circumstances.
38 mins: Now how is that little dust-up going to affect the game? Well it’s a case of “as you were” with Troisi charging into the box and winning a corner. Rojas’s cross into the box is poor though and goes straight to the keeper.
36 mins: Hold on…. Holosko has gone in the book too. Must have been a VAR decision as he’s clearly shown wiping his hand in Troisi’s face. Ironically Broxham escapes scot free. VAR continues its creep into other facets of the game.
35 mins: It’s boiling over! Shirt grabbing, yelling, handbags flying everywhere – all sparked by a poor challenge from Broxham. Referee Gillett takes a moment as the heat dies out of the situation. In the end Ninkovic goes in the book, as does Troisi.
33 mins: A warning for Grant after a clumsy challenge. I think I’ve written that sentence in every Sydney match this season.
31 mins: Victory still the better side as we go past the half-hour mark… although every time Sydney break they look dangerous. One slip and they’ll seize on it – they’ve had that sort of season.
27 mins: Well it’s not the start we were expecting but Victory’s ascendence has certainly made the match more intriguing. The ball almost falls for Rojas in the box but his touch has deserted him a little today. He looks lacking in confidence – not ideal for Victory as they seem to be picking him out regularly.
24 mins: Well it’s been a frantic few minutes and now Khalfallah has gone down off the ball … although the replays suggest he’s made a meal of some minor contact. Sydney FC still look calm though, as well they might – they’ve been in this position before and come out of it smiling.
22 mins: Khalfalla goes in the book for an elbow on Grant while challenging for a high ball. The Victory fans don’t care, scarves are swinging and they’re in fine voice.
21 mins: Berisha! He’s done it again – another grand final goal for the veteran striker, shrugging off two markers to create space then drilling it low past the keeper to open the scoring. Just when Sydney were starting to look dangerous.
18 mins: More pressure from Sydney, Holosko aaaalmost lays it up for Bobo for a tap-in but Victory hastily smother the danger. Warning signs for Muscat’s men.
16 mins: Good keeping from Thomas who comes charging out to stop Zullo getting a clear shot. Seconds later, a wicked cross from Zullo almost catches out the Victory defence, who scramble it behind for a corner. Better from Sydney.
12 mins: First decent chance goes Victory’s way. Khalfallah with a killer ball to Rojas into the box – but he opts to pull it back rather than attempt to smash it home. They get a corner out of it but Sydney deal with it comfortably and the danger passes.
9 mins: Poor ball into the box from Rojas just when it looked like Sydney were on the back foot. Khalfallah didn’t even bother trying to reclaim it, the ball was well overhit. They need to make the most of these spells of pressure, they don’t come around often against Sydney.
7 mins: Some good shielding from Georgevski to snuff out Sydney’s first sniff of goal. Victory have started the game with a very high intensity, it’ll be interesting to see how Sydney respond. The Sky Blues have been there and done that all season though, nothing seems to affect them in terms of belief in their game plan.
5 mins: Rojas seems to be the go-to man for Victory early on, a couple of deep balls already directed his way. Nothing Sydney can’t handle but it’s a promising start from the visitors nonetheless.
3 mins: Safety first from Zullo who boots it into the stands after fluffling his initial clearance. Early pressure from Victory but there’s no space in that imperious Sydney defence and eventually the ball floats harmlessly to the keeper.
1min: Peeeeep! And we’re off. And welcome to the match Georgevski, who gets a boot to the thigh from Brosque. Early fireworks. A prickly start from both sides as they look to grab the game early.
Looks like there’s been a flare in the Sydney end but otherwise no real crowd trouble. I’m sure certain sections of the media will lap it up though. Sydney FC are going to kick us off. Let the games begin.
As the strains of Advance Australia Fair die away, Allianz Stadium erupts in noise.
Not long to go now.
Fireworks, smoke and roars around the ground as the players finally stop teasing us and jog out onto the pitch. Not long to go now… though admittedly I said that about 30 minutes ago.
Anyone else hear the Jaws theme when you see Besart Berisha warming up? Can he score in yet another grand final? It’d take a brave man to bet against him.
The decibel level in Allianz Stadium has been raised to Spinal Tap levels. Not long now, the fans are getting twitchy. Still no sign of the players on the pitch yet … can’t be long though.
A lot of the predictions for this clash have quite rightly centred around the battle between Johnny Warren Medallist Milos Ninkovic and Carl Valeri. After a decent enough first season, Milos 2.0 has been a revelation this campaign and if Victory can’t contain him today, it’s hard to see how they will compete. In Valeri, however, they have one of the few A-League players with the ability and experience to do just that. Just because he’s capable of doing it, however, doesn’t mean he will. In top form, Ninkovic is unplayable.
Well the pitch might be “meh” but it’s perfect football weather – blue skies with just a tinge of cold in the air. The stadium is a sea of blue, filling up well in the build-up to kick-off. Not long to go now.
Here’s one for the Victory fans seeing as the club’s sneaky attempt to get it played during the warm-ups was rumbled by the FFA this week.
Strebre Delovski is back in the VAR hot-seat following the controversy surrounding Sydney’s win over Perth last week. I’m sure I’m not the only one hoping we don’t hear much from him today, in fact the man himself is probably hoping the same. Imagine if another video decision goes Sydney’s way. Things could get ugly. United Airlines ugly.
Looks like a huge contingent of Victory fans have made the trip north. They’re in good voice. Fair play. There’s a big police presence too, no signs of any trouble though.
Sydney FC: Vukovic, Grant, Wilkinson, Buijs, Zullo, Holosko, Brillante, O’Neill, Brosque, Ninkovic, Bobo. Subs: Redmayne, Dimijrijevic, Carney, Simon, Ryall
Melbourne Victory: Thomas, Georgevski, Baro, Donachie, Geria, Broxham, Troisi, Valeri, Rojas, Berisha, Khalfallah. Subs: Acton, Ansell, Austin, Mahazi, Ingham
Like a good episode of Shark Tank, a lot of the discussion this week has centred on the dodgy pitch. As predicted, the Waratahs mauled, scrummed and got soundly beaten all over the Allianz Stadium turf last night to leave it in, ahem, less-than impressive nick. It looks awful. Not exactly a great look for the FFA, but not exactly an uncommon A-League issue either.
Just realised the Long and Winding Road isn’t exactly the kind of tub-thumping, fist-pumping, stadium-rocking anthem to get you in the mood for a grand final. I’m trying to think of a song like Eye of the Tiger or Final Countdown but with more Guardianista class and … actually let’s just go with Eye of the Tiger. Now press play, close your eyes, and imagine Kevin Muscat jogging up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Evening everyone, so we’re on the final approach, the chequered flag is in sight and the plus-size diva is preparing to sing. And if recent clashes between Victory and Sydney FC are any gauge, we should be in for a corker of a grand final today – the Big Blue writ large.
I would say it’s been a long and winding road to get to this year’s A-League decider but for Sydney it’s been more like a traffic-free run down the Western Motorway. One league defeat, 17 points clear at the top, and domination of this year’s team of the season awards tells the tale. Just like house prices, it feels like the Sydney bubble will never burst. If anything, the Sky Blues are just starting to peak – they’ve conceded just one goal in their last seven games, and scored 12 in their last five. Ominous stuff.
Richard will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s how David Squires sees today’s big game:
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/may/07/a-league-grand-final-sydney-fc-v-melbourne-victory-live
- Second-half blitz from Sydney seals victory
- Bobo hits brace after Brosque opener
Just when you thought they couldn’t get any better…
Another second-half masterclass of high-pressing, high-tempo football from Sydney FC as they roar towards the finals. I’m trying to think of any potential chinks in their armour, something that might offer hope to the other title contenders, but the only weakness I could see was the pitch. It was brutal.
That’s all she wrote. Ominous, ominous stuff from Graham Arnold’s men – they are looking unstoppable.
90 mins: Someone call the vet because City need to be put out of their misery. Bobo adds the cherry on the cake for the Sky Blues, heading home at the back post from a deep cross.
89 mins: Bobo latches onto a pass from O’Neill and tries to dink it past the keeper – but it’s deflected for a corner. City clear it comfortably enough and head on the counter attack. Somehow, after being on the attack moments ago, Sydney have got their entire team back in the box waiting to defend. Ninkovic eventually makes the block. That’s why they’re champions.
86 mins: Kamau has worked hard since he’s come on, but he can’t find a way through. Grant outfoxes him this time, harrying him until Sydney get the ball back. It’s been a typical Sydney performance, hard work and high pressing – with several players who can finish off a chance. They are in flying form heading into the finals.
84 mins: Genreau with a strike that forces Vukovic into a smart save. A goal for City now would make the last five minutes interesting. I can’t see it happening though, more likely to go the other way. Talking of making things more interesting, Matt Simon is coming on. Enough time for a booking? Off comes Brosque.
82 mins: Just counting down the clock now, both teams seem to have gone down a gear. Caceres comes on for Colazo in a last roll of the dice for City.
80 mins: Ooo, it was almost three. Carney lashes one into the sidenetting after some poor scrambling in defence. Dimitrijevic comes on for Brillante.
77 mins: Having said that, I’m just starting to feel like the Sydney defence have taken their foot off the gas. A few uncharacteristic errors creeping in, nothing too serious though. A bandaged-up Cahill comes off for Arzani.
76 mins: Is it possible that Sydney are actually playing better now than they have done all season? It’s a frightening thought.
75 mins: Grant flashes a powerful shot straight at Bouzanis, who saves it comfortably. City race to the other end and win a corner. They haven’t given up, but Sydney have just been too good. Calver gets a head to the corner… but it flies backwards for another one. The second corner is overhit and goes out for a throw.
73 mins: City still down to 10 men as Cahill’s cut keeps him off the pitch. O’Neill booked for taking too long with his throw. You’d think he’d want to hurry things up while they have a numerical advantage. Sydney still in total control.
70 mins: Sydney’s first sub of the night, Holosko off for Carney. Cahill needs some treatment for a nasty cut above his eye. He’s had a quiet night.
69 mins: Valkanis in deep discussion with his staff. It’s going to take something special to turn this around. There’s a glimmer of hope when Kamau breaks into the box, but a wall of Sky Blue eventually forces the ball back out of the danger zone.
67 mins: Game over? It’s got that feel to it now. City were more than a match for Sydney in the first half but it’s been one-way traffic since the break. If City don’t pull a goal back soon, I can’t see it ever coming. Ninkovic tries from distance after some nice footwork, but it flies over. The Cove don’t mind though, they’re still celebrating the second goal.
64 mins: Zullo finds himself in acres of space on the left and whips an excellent ball into the box. There’s a very slight deflection but it goes straight to the back post where Bobo is lurking like the predator he is. He doesn’t miss from that distance, sliding it home with ease.
63 mins: Sydney have got their tails up now. They can smell blood. Kamau gets his first touch, looking to find a way through down the right. He’s eventually forced to pass backwards and Sydney win possession.
61 mins: Changes ahoy. Kamau comes on for Fitzgerald in a like-for-like swap. City looking to shake things up.
59 mins: The question now is how will City respond? After defending solidly for so long, it was a pretty poor effort to let a throw-in bounce all the way to the six-yard box. Ninkovic chips one into the box but it’s cleared. City under pressure.
57 mins: A long throw eventually bobbles its way to Brosque who nips in front of his marker and pokes it past Bouzanis. There was a sense that was coming. The Cove are in full voice as Sydney take a grip on the game.
55 mins: An odd, lofted cross into the box from O’Neill. Bouzanis plucks it out of the sky harmlessly. City go right up the other end but the move breaks down courtesy of an offside.
53 mins: Speaking of which… Franjic is forced into a clearance on the line from Grant’s shot after a goalmouth scramble. Bouzanis was stranded after making a previous save. Sydney starting to crank up the pressure.
52 mins: Sydney don’t seem to be in a rush to get a goal, but then why would they? Considering their track record in second halves this season, they must be pretty confident a chance will show itself.
50 mins: For all their defensive woes in the absence of Michael Jakobsen, City have looked pretty good at the back today. I’ve even had to revise my opinion of Muscat, who has looked solid throughout. #kissofdeath
48 mins: Scrappy start to the half so far, both teams seem to be looking for that killer pass but both defences have answered everything asked of them… with the possible exception of Grant’s passback in the first half. Less said about that the better.
45 mins: Peeep! And we’re back, slightly late due to a cameraman obliviously waiting around on the pitch as the players wait to kick off. Graham Arnold doesn’t look best pleased. But then he never does.
That’s it for now folks, no goals in the first half but at the risk of jinxing it, I suspect that will change in the next 45. See you in 15.
45 mins: City struggling to find a way out of their own half, Sydney’s forwards not giving them an inch of space. Eventually Colazo runs clear and wins a corner on the right. He’s arguably been their most dangerous player. The corner comes to nothing though, Sydney have been solid in defence. A minute of added time to come.
43 mins: Half-time ahead and City will probably be thankful for it – Sydney are just starting to build up a head of steam. Brosque booked for a foul on Brattan.
42 min: Zullo with a deep cross that finds Holosko in the box. He meets it with his head, but doesn’t get enough on it and it slips wide. Great footwork from Ninkovic on the left to set up the cross for Zullo. No wonder Sydney are so keen to keep him for next season.
39 mins: Great challenge from Muscat to stop a Sydney counter-attack. Just starting to sense that the
Premiers are getting on top as the half-time break looms.
37 min: Muscat with a header that goes well wide. It was a difficult one, the ball was a little behind him when he connected with it, he actually did well just to steer it in the right direction. Sydney decide to take things down a notch, passing it around, cool and calm, probing forward then bringing it back.
35 mins: I’m still not sure who’s on top here, chances at either end with Sydney arguably having the better ones in the last 10 minutes or so. All that intensity is finally starting to create a few cracks.
33 min: Ninkovic! Ooo, a lovely feint to get away from his marker, then the Sydney star hits a dipping effort that just goes over the bar. I think Bouzanis had it covered to be fair but it would have been awkward.
31 mins: Zullo with a wicked cross that Bobo heads just wide under pressure from Tongyik. Good defending at the near post. A few openings just starting to show themselves.
30 mins: Fornaroli with a scissor kick… that flies harmlessly away into the sea of Sky Blue known as the Cove. Laughter from the Sydney fans. Would have looked spectacular had it come off. But it didn’t. All that was missing was a swannee whistle.
28 mins: The game needs someone to grab it by the scruff of the neck, it’s been an evenly matched arm-wrestle so far. Cahill maybe? Is he capable of doing that these days?
25 mins: It’s been a bit of a see-saw game so far, just when one team looks to be pressing home an advantage, the momentum starts to tilt the other way. Nothing between them so far. We’ve got a game on our hands. Colazo almost clean through after a cross from Genreau… but he’s marginally offside.
23 mins: Ooo, that could have been a clanger. Calver saves Grant’s bacon after a shocker of a passback that Cahill almost latches onto. Calver gets a crucial touch to get it to safety. Big Timmy would have been clean through.
21 mins: There’s a high intensity to the game yet neither side has looked dangerous in the final third so far. Some silky skills from Bouzanis under pressure to throw a charging Grant off the scent. Shades of Schmeichel snr from about 20 years ago.
17 mins: City seem to have adopted a similar/less intense high-pressing tactic to Sydney’s, which you’d think would lead to openings at either end. Both teams have defended well so far though, nothing on offer from open play in terms of chances. Not yet anyway.
15 mins: That little hold-up seems to have slowed the pace of the game, which was a little overly frantic in the opening 10 minutes. Brillante whips a free-kick into the box but it’s easily cleared by the City defence.
12 mins: Bouzanis charges off his line to punch away a deep cross into the box. City eventually clear it, but it looks like Holosko has been hurt by the big shotstopper in the challenge. There’s a pause in proceedings as the physio comes on to have a look.
10 mins: The hosts respond well to that little scare, putting their foot on the ball and calming things down a bit with some simple passes in the defence. They eventually work it all the way into the penalty area but Bobo’s eventual shot is easily blocked by his marker.
8 mins: Oooof! Fornaroli curls it past the wall and it smacks the outside of the post, bouncing away for a goal-kick. Warning sign for Sydney.
7 mins: City playing the ball around nicely in the Sydney half. Fornaroli has a crack from the edge of the box but its miles wide. Not that it matters, Peter Green has given them a free-kick for a challenge just before the strike. Dangerous position.
5 mins: It’s been a bit of a physical start from both sides, hard tackling and free-kicks the order of the day. Pretty 50-50 so far, City possibly shading it.
3 mins: Zullo gives away a free-kick on the left-side of the box. Colazo looks like he’s going to whip it in. Cahill lurking. But it’s too close and low to Vukovic who dives on it. Good first touch for the keeper.
1 min: Peeeeep! And we’re off. Sydney get us underway and Rose greets Holosko with a meaty challenge for a high ball. Free-kick. That’ll have woken him up.
Not long to go
The players are coming onto the pitch, which doesn’t look in great shape to be honest. I’ve said that far too often this season. Doesn’t bode well for free-flowing football, although it might lead to a few nerves in defence.
The loss of key defender Michael Jakobsen to a suspiciously lengthy calf injury has certainly hampered City in the run up to the finals but the form of Bruno Fornaroli will give them hope of breaking down that stubborn Sydney defence. Can he overhaul Berisha in the race for the golden boot? Just one goal in it at the minute.
Melbourne City: Bouzanis, Muscat, Franjic, Tongyik, Rose, Genreau, Colazo, Brattan, Fitzgerald, Cahill, Fornaroli. Subs: Sorensen, Caceres, Kamau, Retre, Arzani
Here’s something a little more encouraging for City fans, footage from the last time this fixture was played in Sydney. City came within a whisker of ending the Sky Blues’ unbeaten run before it had really begun – only to be denied by a late penalty.
FT: Newcastle 0-3 Wanderers
So the Wanderers have continued their run of form with a comprehensive victory over the Jets that puts them just two points behind City in third. It also means just three points separate third place from sixth. The prospect of City finishing sixth would have been laughable a couple of months ago…
Speaking of April Fools
The A-League got into the spirit of April 1 with a couple of ‘hilarious’ *cough* stories. Judging by the outrage directed at the Melbourne Victory-Big Bash yarn, they seemed to have fooled a few people.
Evening everyone, thanks for joining me tonight for a fixture that may well be repeated in a few weeks when we finally get into the nitty gritty of finals football. Whether that happens or not basically depends on City, who seem to think the word “consistency” is some sort of April Fools prank to be avoided. Do they have the talent to beat this season’s runaway
Premiers? Certainly. But the fact that they’re a whopping 23 points behind the league leaders tells you just how often they’ve failed to hit the heights they’re capable of this season.
For Sydney, the opposite has been true, and anyone who thought Graham Arnold’s premiership steamroller might veer off the road once he picked up the Premiers Plate got a rude awakening in Perth last week – when the Sky Blues rode right over poor Glory in a 3-0 shellacking. With Arnold also eyeing up a record points haul for the season, and urging his players to play for their finals places, a lack of motivation doesn’t seem to be an issue. City will have to be at the top of their game to get something from this one.
Richard will be with you shortly. In the meantime, check out Joe Gorman’s stroll down memory lane with NSL pioneers Canberra City.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/apr/01/sydney-fc-vs-melbourne-city-a-league-live
- All the action from Sydney FC’s 1-0 win over the Mariners at Allianz Stadium
- Holosko hits the winner in tight clash
It wasn’t exactly a classic performance but the ruthless Sydney machine rumbles on towards the minor premiership – potentially delivering a fatal blow to the Mariners’ finals hopes as it does. There were chances and a few nice tricks, but the only thing the Sky Blues lacked was a killer touch – although some of that can be attributed to the excellent Necevski, who answered (almost) everything thrown at him. The Mariners defence worked hard to restrict the hosts too, making them work for every opening while offering up only a handful of errors on a poor pitch in an unusually disciplined display. That said, the Sydney strikers were a little off colour as well. Not that Graham Arnold will be too worried. And despite what he says, you can bet he and the team will be celebrating if Victory drop points tomorrow.
As for the Mariners, no one really expected them to get something from this game, but they didn’t disgrace themselves either. It’s perhaps a measure of how far they’ve come since that early season 4-0 thrashing at this venue that they matched Sydney for long periods this time out – although Necevski had a large part in that. With Adelaide up next, they’ll still feel they’re not out of the running just yet, but another defeat in their last few games and it’ll be curtains on another campaign.
90+3 mins: I stand corrected. A corner at the death from the Mariners but – surprise, surprise – it’s cleared comfortably, this time from Matt Simon. It comes back into the box from a throw but, despite a few nerves, Sydney hoof it away and that’s all she wrote.
90+2 mins: It’s game over and both teams know it. The Mariners just haven’t been incisive enough to trouble the hosts. Pain fails to keep the ball in play from a through-ball down the left wing and that could be their last chance.
90 mins: Time running out for the Mariners. They’ve played well without seriously threatening the Sky Blues.
87 mins: Sydney finishing the game as the stronger side although the Mariners are still trying to attack when they get the ball. They’re finding it very difficult get any sort of penetration though. A deep free-kick into the Sydney box is scooped up comfortably by Vukovic.
86 mins: Another good flying save from Necevski, if a little showboaty (the free-kick was on target but lacked power). He pokes it away for a corner, which comes to nothing.
85 mins: Simon uses his muscle to create an opening – and then wins a free-kick about 20 metres out. Dead centre. It might be a little too close to the goal to get it up and under.
83 mins: Buijs delivers a free-kick into the box but a high header floats into Necevski’s grateful arms. Sydney look the more likely to score now the game’s opened up. The Mariners goalkeeper has had an impressive night though.
81 mins: Bobo races down the right and curls it towards the bottom corner – but Necevski is equal to it. A good stop although the Sydney man should have done better. That’s his last act. He comes off for Simon.
77 mins: Sydney FC turning the screw now, the intensity going up a notch as the Mariners look to get back into the game and Sydney look to kill it off. Ibini cracks one off the bar. It bounces just outside the line and away to safety. Necevski didn’t even see it.
75 mins: A very poor effort from Ibini is saved by Necevski. It was struck just at the right height for the keeper, not especially powerful either. Fair play to Necevski for choosing the right direction though. Why did Ibini take it? Very odd. The Mariners are still in this.
74 mins: Rose brings down Ibini in the box, poor defending from the Mariners from a fairly innocuous attack. A shame because Rose has played well. Ibini made the most of the contact but Rose had his arms wrapped around the Sydney forward. He can’t have any complaints.
72 mins: A Sydney corner highlights the differences between the two defences. It’s not the greatest, but it bounces through a swathe of players before the danger finally passes. Wilkinson (or someone in a Sky Blue shirt) would have put his foot through that if it had been at the other end, safety first.
Now you’re talking. A guaranteed booking at the very least.
69 mins: I’m not sure why the Mariners are even bothering with high balls into the box – the Sky Blues are dominating in the air. Another thumping defensive header clears the potential danger. Holsoko comes off for Mariners old boy Ibini.
67 mins: Montgomery with a chip into the box from a free-kick but it’s defended well by Sydney. Again. The game has certainly opened up though, hopefully we’ll see a few more chances in the last 20 minutes.
65 mins: Easy as it is for me to bemoan the lack of urgency and directness from both sides, the state of the pitch isn’t exactly helping the flow of the game. Too many bobbles for the players to feel confident in their passes and runs.
64 mins: Galloway with some nice twists and turns to keep the Mariners out of danger despite the attention of two Sky Blue shirts. The visitors swing forward and, for once, they have men in support. Risky but necessary.
62 mins: Here we go. Pacey Pain on for big Bingham. The Mariners going for it.
61 mins: Bobo with a strike but Rose defends well enough to make sure it’s not a clean connection and the ball bobbles out for a goal-kick.
60 mins: Well we’re on the hour mark and surely Okon will be thinking of making a change some time soon. For all their huff and puff they’ve barely tested Vukovic.
58 mins: Sydney on the attack now. They haven’t done much of that so far this half, although that will surely change as the game goes on. Free-kick to the Sky Blues as Zullo goes down under a harsh O’Donovan tackle. Too far out for a shot. It’s drilled into the box and bounces harmlessly off a press of yellow shirts.
56 mins: There’s been no real urgency in the game since that early surge from the champions-elect. The good news is that will have to change at some stage soon if the Mariners want to get back into this game. Sydney content just to mop up each attack and probe away when a mistake is made.
54 mins: The Mariners have certainly had their fair share of possession, and look quite comfortable playing it on the deck. Until they get in the final third – then they seem to run out of ideas. Story of their season.
52 mins: O’Donovan offside from a chip over the top. Vukovic got there first anyway. Come on boys, a bit more va va voom please.
50 mins: Sydney on the attack now, muscling past Mariners players without really opening up enough space to get a clear shot away. Necevski flaps a little at a cross but it’s harmless enough in the end.
47 mins: Another slow start, much like the first half. The Mariners with a few early touches but not in dangerous positions. They try to find a way through the Sydney defence but Sky Blue shirts close out each potential gap like the cliffs in the original version of Clash of the Titans.
Peeeeep! And we’re back, the Mariners getting us under way. They need to pick up where they left off – and then go up a gear. If they can.
And that’s it for the first 45 – not quite the mauling it threatened to be in the opening exchanges but Sydney will still be the happier of the two sides. Good finish from the Mariners though. More of the same and this might actually get juicy. See you in 15.
45+1 mins: The Mariners are finishing the half well, although every time Sydney get a sniff they look more dangerous. Not much injury time.
44 mins: O’Donovan fails to connect with (what would have been) a fierce header in the box. That could, perhaps should, have been an equaliser. He left Buijs standing.
41 mins: Little bit more excitement to finish the half, both sides looking to snatch one before the break without really creating a clear chance. Sydney still look more likely to score but the Mariners are willing to commit men forward for the first time this half.
39 mins: Buijs blocks a potentially dangerous cross to the near post from O’Donovon. Montogomery whips in the corner but it hits a wall of Sky Blue. Sydney race up the other end, with the Mariners defence bursting a vessel to keep up – and they just manage to keep the danger at bay. Just.
37 mins: Good response from the Mariners, with a spell of pressure around the Sydney box. It comes to nothing, a poor ball to Roux on the right flying out for a goal-kick.
35 mins: Ooo, almost 2-0. Bit of a scramble in the box and it falls to Grant – who can’t get it past a wall of yellow and blue bodies. It falls to Brosque who smashes it over.
31 mins: Not sure if it’s a good thing or not that the Sky Blues haven’t gone for the jugular. It’s not thrilling football at the minute but at least this is still a contest – if the hosts had forced the issue, it could be game over by now. Then again, the Mariners might have found a gap in a counter-attack and equalised. Coulda, woulda shoulda.
28 mins: Sydney don’t seem in any rush to add to their lead, passing it around in their own half. Can’t really blame them. It’s not exactly the gung-ho, attacking flair game the fans love but it’s effective and with this Mariners defence, you always sense they’ll get a few more clear chances without pushing too hard to look for them.
26 mins: Solid defending from Rose to cut out a throughball to Bobo. If that had gone past him it would have been Kenny Loggins for the Mariners (in the danger zone).
25 mins: Bingham fails to connect with a deep cross into the box from Appiah, to be fair he was under pressure from Grant. Have I been too quick to write-off the Mariners? They’re looking a little more competitive. Let’s hope they can make a game of this.
22 mins: It’s a poor ball in, overhit by Galloway, but the Mariners fight to win a corner out of it. A bit better from the visitors. The corner comes to nothing but the last few minutes have been their best so far.
21 mins: Only the most one-eyed Mariners fan would have backed the side before this game, but on the evidence of the opening exchanges I’d suggest even they would be revising their opinion. They’ve had a fair bit of possession but in non-dangerous areas. When Sydney go forward, they always look like they might score. The Mariners get a free-kick off Grant though. This is a chance to cause some chaos in the box.
18 mins: Well the gas has gone out of the game for a spell… probably not the worst thing in the world as far as the Mariners are concerned, it could have been over in half an hour if Sydney had kept the pressure up.
I’m slightly worried about the pending award of the league title (Premiers Plate not being part of me lexicon) to Sydney. Having spent the season having them lauded as, potentially, the greatest side in A League side of all time. They aren’t. The majority of the time they play an overly aggressive, visually moribund game of attrition. A little like the German side in Escape to Victory.
Phil Withall via email
The German side from Escape to Victory? You’ve made some valid/defensible points but egads that’s harsh.
13 mins: A great ball by Brillante sends Grant away on the right but the Mariners defend it well. They’ll need more of that if they’re going to get back into this.
11 mins: Another chance for Sydney but Necevski is equal to the shot. This is not looking good for the Mariners, Sydney have carved them open several times already.
10 mins: Ferreira gets a ball into the chest and goes down in agony. He should be able to shake that off though… and indeed he’s running around a minute later.
8 mins: It begins! Zullo with a fantastic cross into the box, curling it right into the path of Holosko, who fires home. Great ball, great run, great finish. No chance Necevski.
7 mins: Well that almost went against the script, O’Donovon setting up Appiah but he can’t get his shot past Vuck in the Sydney goal
5 mins: Sydney making most of the early running. No surprises there. The ball has barely been out of the Mariners half so far. Here come the visitors with a foray though, winning a free-kick and knocking it around the halfway mark. They’ve put their foot on the ball and are playing it around well. Should settle their nerves. For now at least.
3 mins: OOOooo! Buijs comes inside of Roux, and curls it just over the bar. Great pass by Grant to find him. Early warning sign for Central Coast.
Peeeeeep! And we’re off. This could be a long 90 minutes for the Mariners… or it could be the launchpad for fairytale turnaround that jumpstarts their finals campaign. Can’t see the latter happening though I must admit. Slow start so far. As you can tell by my rambling.
Kick-off looming. The Cove in good voice as the Sky Blues get ready in the centre circle.
Bit harsh, I’ve always found it quite endearing. And if they’re sacrificial lambs for Sydney tonight, would that make them the Laminators? Now that does sound daft.
Despite their position on the ladder, the Mariners haven’t been hammered too many times this season… but they won’t need reminding that their biggest loss came in this fixture back in October, just when the Sky Blues steamroller was hitting top gear. Necevski in particular won’t want to see that last goal again. So here it is.
Before this gets in danger of becoming too silly. Here are tonight’s line-ups. It looks ominous for that Mariners defence.
Bear with me on this, but tonight’s match feels a bit like the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, starring Graham Arnold as Indy, Kevin Muscat’s head as a giant rolling boulder and the Premiers Plate as that melted World Cup-looking thing on a weight-sensitive plinth, which will be triggered if Sydney get things wrong tonight. And you can bet old Arnie will be celebrating long into the night if they do win the Plate this weekend. Right Arnie?
Not a chance, no chance. That’s what other teams want. The other teams want us to celebrate and take our foot off the pedal and that’s not going to happen. It’s about driving this team to be better and better and we know we’ve still got a lot left in us. Graham Arnold
So here we are folks, the race is almost run, the chequered flag is in sight and Sydney FC are so close to snatching the Premiers Plate you can almost hear the drip, drip, drip of Graham Arnold salivating. The fat lady hasn’t sung just yet, but Adele is in town so someone chuck her one of those fake pregnancy suits and she can give it a go while we wait.
The equation for Sydney fans is simple enough. A win against the Mariners today and a slip by Victory tomorrow will be enough to seal the minor premiership – not that there’s any real doubt they’ll claim it at some stage anyway. With respect to Victory, even Barcelona couldn’t comeback from this one.
Richard will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s David Squires’ latest cartoon, buddy.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/10/a-league-sydney-fc-v-central-coast-mariners-live
- Berisha goes from villain to hero for Victory
- Controversy surrounds late winner
It’s far too soon after all that late drama for me to give any sort of composed overview of what we just saw – but I’ll take a deep breath and do my best. Let’s forget about the first half (it shouldn’t be too hard) – but what a finish. I’m still not entirely sure what happened to Cahill, and I can certainly see why City will feel cheated of a point (even if it was probably the right decision in the end), but full credit to Victory for the way they fought to the end. How much will that change their season? Four defeats would have been shattering, but instead they’ve beaten their local rivals just when all seemed lost. With some easier games coming up, they could really build a head of steam heading into the finals.
But where now for City? It almost feels like they’ve written this season off, as though they’re waiting for a new manager to come in for next year and see what happens then. Certainly they’re a shadow of the team that won the FFA Cup just two months ago. They’ll still get through to the finals, and with the talent at their disposal they can trouble any team in the league, but a spark seems to be missing, and such a deflating defeat certainly won’t help reignite it.
And that’s it! Or is it just the start? City are not happy. The controversy of that last goal will run on and on and they’re venting their frustration at the officials. It should be interesting to hear Vakanis’ thoughts afterwards. But when it’s all said and done, Victory have taken the three points.
90+3 mins: City not done yet, although Victory have too many men in their own box for there to be any clear danger. Troisi races up the other end and wins a corner. Rojas and Troisi have been Victory’s best players tonight. To be honest, I’ve completely lost track of players getting booked here. There seems to be cards flying around left, right and centre. Fornaroli the latest.
90+2 mins: Berisha comes off for Mahazi. What a rollercoaster it’s been for him – from the depths of despair to last-ditch glory.
90 mins: Well my head’s spinning. Who could have seen all this drama coming after that dredge of a first half? Victory pushing for a third. Vakanis is not a happy man. I can see the argument for both teams to be fair.
88 mins: Now Cahill has been sent off! Good gawd what’s going off out there? What a finish to the game. Off Cahill jogs, presumably for something he said after all that controversy. He hadn’t even been subbed on yet. How have City thrown this one away?
87 mins: Moments after equalising, Victory think they’ve scored another – but the linesman has raised his flag! Controversy reigns, players yelling for all their worth but the goal is given – an own goal by Muscat. Amazing scenes! It looks like the lino raised his flag too early as the cross from Geria never reached Berisha (who was offside). Instead it was accidentally rolled into the net by Muscat’s slide at the near post. It’s a clear own goal, so technically there was no offside – but would Muscat have made the sliding tackle if Berisha hadn’t been lurking behind him, which would mean Berisha was interfering with play? I think it’s the right call in the end – but I would be fuming if I was Vakanis. This game has reached boiling point.
86 mins: Berisha sticks it away! Rojas the danger man with some great work on the left. He pulls it back for Berisha who sidefoots home from six yards. He’a a very, very relieved man.
83 mins: Troisi with a wicked free-kick that dips at the last minute… but not far enough, landing just on top of Bouzanis’ net. He’s been one of Victory’s better players.
81 mins: Muscat yelling for some reason after giving away a clear free-kick. Great work from Rojas. Victory plugging away.
79 mins: Victory need to show some more urgency if they don’t want to slip further off the pace on the ladder. They’re paying the price for not going for the win earlier in the match. Broxham comes off for Georgievski.
77 mins: While the first half dragged, this half has whizzed by. Only 15 minutes for Victory to try and claw something back here. It’s City in the ascendancy though. Brattan with a shot that has Thomas scrambling a little.
75 mins: Victory finally get a bit of possession. They’ve looked a little shellshocked for the last five minutes. City look a lot more confident on the ball now, while Victory are staring down the barrel of four straight defeats.
73 mins: Well we’ve got a game now. Berisha will be desperate to make up for that penalty miss too. City on top for now though, and they’ve earned a free-kick on the edge of the box, just left of centre. Fornaroli takes it, but it skims wide of the post.
70 mins: Kilkenny scores with a deflected effort! Brandan with the pullback for Kilkenny, he tries to place it but it takes a deflection that completely wrong-foots Thomas and bobbles into the net. A scrappy looking goal but they all count. It’s been coming too – I just wasn’t sure who for.
67 mins: A deflected shot from Kilkenny earns City a corner. They take it short, cross it for Fornaroli… and win another corner. Thomas palms it away, it falls to Brattan but he smashes it over. All action at either end. Momentum shifts every few minutes,
65 mins: Kamau comes on as City look to add some pace. The game has changed completely from the first half. City try to power through the Victory defence but they just manage to stand firm. Fun times people.
63 mins: Bouzanis guesses correctly to deny Berisha! Amazing stuff as the Albanian misses from the spot again. Fantastic dive from the shotstopper, not the greatest penalty in the world but not the worst either. Full credit to the keeper.
61 mins: Rojas brought down by Brattan in the box. Clear penalty. Victory with a big, big chance.
61 mins: Brattan crosses a free-kick into the box…except it isn’t a cross. It dips and swerves and just glances the top of the crossbar on its way out for a goal kick. Victory take a breath and make a change – Khalfallah comes off for Austin.
59 mins: Oooo, a couple of decent chances for City denied by the keeper. This is more like it, chances at either end. The crowd can sniff the change in the air, more of a crackle in the stands now.
58 mins: Some activity on the City bench. Cahill and Kamau both stretching. The game has definitely opened up but neither side seems composed enough to make the most of it.
56 mins: Broxham gets on the end of the corner, or rather gets under it, and the header sails harmlessly over the bar.
55 mins: Tongyik with a composed header to clear a potentially dangerous cross from Broxham. This is better viewing. Corner for Victory.
53 mins: Khalfallah with a shot from the edge of the area that goes straight to Bouzanis. It’s opening up a little though, a few genuine chances being created. More of the same please.
52 mins: Some nerves in the Victory box as a free-kick into the danger area eventually finds Tongyik on the right. He smashes it back into the area but a Victory foot clears the danger. A little bit more promising though.
50 mins: Geria goes in the book, some might say it was overdue, after yet another clumsy challenge on Brandan.
49 mins: Huzzahs! A first shot on target! A few ricochets around the City box and the ball falls kindly for Troisi – he hits it sweet enough but it’s straight down the throat of Bouzanis.
48 mins: Tongyik with his first touch. Didn’t look especially confident to be honest, a slightly lacklustre pass back to the keeper that he struggles a little with. Is that where a goal’s going to come from? A mistake?
46 mins: And we’re off again. A couple of early long balls don’t bode well for the trajectory of the game.
Tongyik comes on for Jakobsen who really looked like he was struggling. If he’s out for a while, that could be a big blow to City’s finals chances.
The top statistic tells you all you need to know. Either Vakanis or Muscat will have to take a risk if this game is going to improve in the second half.
That’s it, a nervous half comes to an end with the game all square. Both teams have been unconvincing where it counts, although they haven’t shied away from a challenge. Catch you in 15.
45 mins: Well the last five minutes have been the best of the game, shame the half is almost over. City waste a corner and that’s got to be close to half-time. City happy to pass it around as the clock ticks down.
44 mins: Berisha! Oh dear oh dear. The ball is whipped across the face of goal, the keeper can’t reach it and all Berisha had to do was get a touch. Somehow his leg seemed to move in slow motion though and the ball had flashed past him before he could bury it. Best chance so far.
43 mins: The yellow cards are racking up now. Muscat this time for throwing himself a little too forcefully into a tackle with Bozanic. Not quite the passion we were looking for.
42 mins: Now Malik goes into the book for a fairly obvious foul. Not sure why City are complaining. It was clear as day.
41 mins: Ansell goes into the book for a tough challenge on Brandan (again). It’s good to see Ansell back on the pitch again, if only because if he scores I can use the “Ansell, he’s so hot right now” footage from Zoolander.
38 mins: Oooo! Fornaroli latches on to a Kilkenny cross to nod home, but he’s fractionally offside and the linesman gets it right. Hopefully that sparks something.
37 mins: Nice work from Troisi to run the ball all the way from his own half and win a throw deep in City territory. He’s been one of the better players tonight, although it’s been slim pickings. This game really needs a goal to liven things up, but so far chances have been at a premium.
35 mins: Not for the first time, Muscat gives away a foul and Victory have a dangerous free-kick on the left edge of the box. Troisi chips it into the danger area but Bouzanis is equal to it, punching it away confidently.
33 mins: Victory probing away, but they fail to find a way through and Jaksobsen makes it back onto the pitch. He doesn’t look particularly healthy though, little bit of limping – never a good sign.
31 mins: Jakobsen seems to be struggling with a leg injury. He’s come off for some treatment but City will be praying he’s OK, he’s so crucial to their defence. The game continues without him, Victory looking to make the most of the numerical advantage. Risky time for City.
29 mins: City finally get a bit of space to play the ball around – unusual as Victory have been pressing them all over the pitch up until now. The ball eventually finds Brandan, who takes a touch on the edge of the box and curls a shot well over the bar. Better from City even if the final execution was poor.
26 mins: Geria and Brandan tussling again on the right (for Victory). That’s looked like City’s best route to goal so far, the Victory right-back seems under pressure every time his opponent gets a clean run at him.
23 mins: The last five minutes have been very scrappy, little thought going into some of the passing and runs. It’s screaming out for someone to take the game by the scruff of the neck to dictate things. No one’s putting their hand up though. A long ball over the top is just slightly overhit and Bouzanis smothers the danger on the edge of his area.
20 mins: So far this game has gone exactly as you’d expect from two talented teams struggling for confidence – just a few nerves letting down the final ball, and the defence’s look a little spooked as well, despite some good passages here or there. The first goal could prove even more important than usual.
18 mins: Excellent challenge from Franjic to deny Khalfallah, who was clean through. The City man just got enough on it to steer it away from his rival. Khalfallah arguably should have had a better first touch, but all credit to Franjic for tracking back so quickly.
16 mins: Brandan goes down under one such challenge (in the box too), taking a head to the side of his own that leaves him writhing for a few minutes. Referee doesn’t see it as illegal though.
14 mins: Some nice football from City in Victory’s final third but so far the home side have defended well… although Geria is riding his luck a little with some forceful challenges.
12 mins: Less haste more speed needed by both teams at the minute, someone just needs to put a foot on it and dictate play. Where’s Mooy when you need him? City win a free-kick about 40 yards out. It’s taken short and they’re forced all the way back into their own half – then bring it all the way back to win a throw close to the corner flag. Good work.
9 mins: City win the first corner of the match after a good run from Fornaroli. It’s curled into box, fools Broxham, but Brandan isn’t expecting it and it bounces off him to safety.
7 mins: Neither side really on top in the opening exchanges, although there seems to be a smidge more mongrel in the way Victory are playing. Oooo… Rojas runs onto a long ball from Bozanic, nicks it over the onrushing keeper but it lands on the top of the net. First real chance.
5 mins: Troisi whips in a free-kick… but like some bad mash potato it’s overwhipped, and sails to the other side of the pitch away from any danger. Fornaroli gets a nasty blow on the shin but manages to walk away. It’s bubbling away. All perfectly above board at the minute though. Bruno might disagree.
3 mins: Franjic on the receiving end of a crunching (but legal) tackle from Baro. That’s what we like to see at the start of a derby. Bit scrappy in the early stages.
1 min: Peeeeeeep! And we’re under way. Victory get us started, immediately losing possession with a deep punt into the City half that sails straight out. They get it back though and Berisha almost gets to a cross on the right but he’s fractionally offside.
‘Stand by Me’ blares out of the sound system as the teams take the field. The fans seem in fine voice anyway even if the numbers aren’t quite as high as usual. Not long to go now.
So it’s with a not-unexpected ‘auf wiedersehen’ that Victory fans this week waved goodbye to winger Max Beister, who has flown back to Germany on extended compassionate leave after just nine A-League appearances. It was such a promising start too, with a goal on debut.
I would like to thank Kevin Muscat and all the Melbourne Victory players and staff for allowing me the wonderful experience of playing in Australia at this club … Unfortunately, some things in life are bigger than football, and the best thing for me is to return to Germany.”
Speaking of Melbourne derbies, this is the second one this weekend. Kind of. For those interested, the Dandenong derby on Friday night finished up with Thunder running out 4-1 winners over City in the Jim Mimeti Cup. A hat-trick from the prolific Brandon Barnes did the damage. A few names from the night might ring bells with A-League fans – Kalmar, Colosimo, Vargas, Sarkies, Dugandzic… Some good footage of the goals here if you’re logged into Facebook.
Is four (potentially five) derby games too much in one season? There’s less excitement bubbling around this fixture IMO than previous instalments but I don’t think it’s quite reached the stage of calling it the Meh-bourne derby yet. Derby fatigue? Or just a result of the stuttering form of both teams? Possibly a mixture of both. You can bet the mood would be different if they were both challenging for top spot. Anyway, here’s some action from the last game, when Victory came from behind after Cahill’s opener (who else?).
So let’s leap straight to the line-ups because the big news is the golden forehead himself, Tim Cahill, is on the bench. That doesn’t mean we won’t see him at some stage, but it looks like reports earlier in the week of him struggling with soreness after coming off after 64 minutes against the Jets weren’t quite the mind games I suspected they might be. Of course, given his penchant for showmanship, Victory fans will be wary of a late goalscoring cameo. Even so, it’s a blow for City.
Melbourne Victory: Lawrence Thomas (GK), Jason Geria, Nick Ansell, Alan Baro, Leigh Broxham, Oliver Bozanic, James Troisi, Carl Valeri (c), Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Besart Berisha, Marco Rojas. Subs: Georgievski, Austin, Mahazi, Ingham, Acton
Melbourne City: Dean Bouzanis (GK), Manny Muscat, Ivan Franjic, Neil Kilkenny, Osama Malik, Michael Jakobsen, Nicolas Colazo, Fernando Brandan, Anthony Caceres, Bruno Fornaroli (c), Luke Brattan. Subs: Cahill, Tongyik, Retre, Kamau, Sorensen
Evening A-League fans, is anyone in Melbourne getting a sense of deja vu this week? Federer champion once more at Rod Laver, Springsteen playing for a second night at AAMI Park, and another clash between City and Victory on the cards – a fixture that comes back around so regularly there’s a picture of it under ‘boomerang’ in the Macquarie Dictionary. In fact it’s so regular I’m clearly scraping the barrel for interesting ways to start this preamble.
Tonight’s Melbourne derby, the fourth this season, comes less than two months since the previous match – but how times have changed. In the build up to that game, both teams were riding high and still had hopes of challenging Sydney FC for the Premiers Plate. Fast forward to tonight and both clubs’ ambitions have nosedived faster than a conversation between Turnbull and Trump. And with the A-League endgame in sight, this clash has become about much more than bragging rights for two teams stumbling towards a finals berth. Defeat for Victory would be their fourth on the trot and give both City and Roar genuine hopes of nicking that all-important second spot on the ladder. Defeat for City would not only effectively end their chances of reaching the top two, but also leave them looking just a little nervously over their shoulders at the prospect of slipping outside the top six altogether – something that would have been unthinkable in the aftermath of their FFA Cup triumph in December.
Richard will be here shortly. In the meantime, check out the latest on FFA’s inability to have the Fifa deadline for governance reforms pushed back.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/feb/04/melbourne-victory-v-melbourne-city-a-league-live
- Live updates from the Sydney derby at Allianz Stadium
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A fair result? Probably. And when the dust settles, neither time will be especially unhappy with the way things panned out. Nor will Melbourne Victory for that matter.
For the Wanderers, they’ve held the league’s runaway leaders in their own backyard and got some measure of respect back for that 4-0 drubbing earlier in the season. Can it be a catalyst for a charge up the table into the finals? Only if they start finding the back of the net some time in the very near future.
That’s all she wrote! Honours even. The Wanderers could have edged it in the second half but they’ll be happy enough with a point.
92 mins: Clisby closes out Ibini for a throw. This is it surely. Ibini whips a ball in but Janjetovic is there, solid as ever, much to the Cove’s chagrin.
90 mins: Attendance of 40,143. Not too shabby, just a shame there haven’t been any goals… (that’s me deliberately tempting fate by the way)
89 mins: Janjetovic dives at the feet of Carney to shut out a Simon pass. The keeper just earned himself a few more snakes.
88 mins: Simon picks up a booking for a late challenge. It wouldn’t have felt like a derby game if he hadn’t seen yellow at some stage.
86 mins: Wanderers create some danger in the Sydney box but there’s far too much blue and not enough red in there for it to turn into anything more. They end up with a corner, but nothing comes of it. Hamill comes on for Cornthwaite.
85 mins: Parp! Ibini tees up a half volley that sails harmlessly over. Bobo comes off for Simon. Should make the last five minutes interesting.
83 mins: Sydney now with a free-kick on the left side of the box, about 25 yards out. Carney whips one in but it’s poor and cleared. Not convincingly though and there’s a few nerves as Wanderers throw bodies on the line to keep the hosts at bay.
81 mins: No sooner have I said that than the Wanderers create three quick half-chances that leave Sydney reeling. Brilliant bit of keeping from Vukovic to smother the danger. Both keepers have been fantastic tonight.
80 mins: Who’s got the skill to pinch a winner then? Someone? No one? Wanderers have arguably shaded it this half, but I’ve still got that nagging feeling that Sydney FC might pop up with a late winner from somewhere. They’re having that kind of season.
78 mins: Great cut-out tackle from Dimas from a low-cross into the box. I think it was Bobo waiting to pounce if he’d missed. Brosque comes off for Carney.
76 mins: Aspro cuts out a charge down the right from Ibini after a slightly skewed pass makes him check his run. It’s been that kind of night for the Sky Blues, the final ball just hasn’t been there.
74 mins: Good work from Vukovic to come rushing out of his area and clear a dangerous ball over the top before it can reach Nichols. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there’s been nothing between the teams tonight, which is a compliment to Wanderers rather than Sydney FC.
70 mins: Looks like Ibini is warming up for Sydney. Will he be the difference? He’s definitely got the talent to win a game. Interesting images of rubber snakes being thrown onto the net behind Janjetovic. He’s getting the full Taylor Swift treatment. The keeper has seen the funny side though. Ibini on, Holosko off.
69 mins: They’re getting closer though! Neville with a screamer under pressure from 20 yards, but Vukovic is equal to it – tipping it over for a corner.
68 mins: Clisby with a (let’s be generous) “shot” that flies high and wide over the bar. It’s not hard to see why the Wanderers have struggled to find the back of the net.
66 mins: Bobo takes a first-time shot but he can’t get it past Janjetovic. The goalkeeper has kept the boo boys quiet tonight. Well… quieter.
64 mins: First sub of the evening – Jumpei on for Scott. Can the Wanderers force the issue?
62 mins: Ironic cheers ahoy as Janjetovic slices one out of play. The Cove have been waiting for that all night.
61 mins: Bobo with an attempted scissor kick. It would have looked spectacular if it had come off. But it doesn’t. Instead he just sits there on the turf as the ball trundles out off his ankle.
59 mins: Against expectation, the Wanderers seem to be getting better this half. In fact they’ve been the better team. Sydney still seem to be waiting for that forced mistake to present itself further up the pitch.
55 mins: Oooo! Sotirio blasts one over the bar from about 20 yards. It never really threatened Vukovic but it was a warning shot for Sydney.
53 mins: Is anyone else starting to get the feeling that neither side would be particularly upset if this one finished all square? There’s not much in the way of urgency from either team so far, unless you count the standard “high pressing” game of Sydney FC.
50 mins: Well that’s Arnold’s pre-march prediction gone. Nichols with a glancing header that forces a sharp stop from Vukovic – his first proper save of the game. That’s as dangerous as the Wanderers have looked. They’ve started the half well.
48 mins: There’s been a similar feel to the start of the second half as there was to the whole of the first – a tussle in the middle as both teams try to force an error from the other side. The Wanderers have probed and probed and probed but they still can’t find an opening and the attack falls apart as they try to play a killer ball and fail.
46 mins: Away we go. Can the Wanderers keep up the pressure against the famously fast-finishing Sydney? We’ll see soon enough. Janjetovic playing just in front of the Cove now. Should be interesting….
Looks like I’m on my own with saying that wasn’t a penalty against Zullo in the first half. But like all good belligerent pundits, I’m sticking to my guns. Did it hit his hand? Yes. Could he have done anything about it? No. It had already hit him before he knew what was happening. IMO. It looks worse in slow-mo because he’s trying to shield his face as he gets out of the way. Then again, as a former defender, I’m bound to say that.
And there we have it. A couple of good saves have kept Wanderers in it, but then Sydney FC have had a couple of scares themselves. Nothing in it at the minute. Catch you in 15 mins.
44 mins: Well it’s not exactly been fireworks on the pitch (or flares for that matter) but the fans are still in fine voice as we approach the break. Can Martinez create something with a jinking run? No. No he can’t. Sydney win the ball back then get a free-kick close to the halfway line. That could be all she wrote.
42 mins: Grant walking a fine line after another tackle goes through the back of Sotirio. Popovic would probably be more pleased than Arnold with how things have gone so far. No clear opportunities but they’ve held their own against the league leaders. Just.
40 mins: Half-time on the horizon and all-square would be about right. It’s been more of an arm-wrestle than a full-on UFC bloodfest. Wanderers still look a little nervous when they’re pressed so high up the pitch by Sydney. They’re not alone in that regard though.
36 mins: There’s not been much between the teams, but Sydney FC look the more dangerous when they do break. That’s been the only difference really though, and some of that is down to confidence. Grant goes in the book for a clumsy foul on Sotirio.
34 mins: Well we’ve not seen much in the way of shots but there’s still been enough action to keep fans glued. Both sides seem not exactly nervous, but certainly a little tense, like they’re waiting for mistakes from each other. In fairness, there have been a couple. Maybe that’s part of the plan, let the occasion create the openings. Wanderers win a corner after some probing but it’s cleared confidently.
31 mins: For all their huff and puff, Wanderers haven’t really found a way through the Sky Blues defence. A mistake from Aspro almost allows Sydney to break clean through but the Wanderers just about recover in time.
29 mins: The Wanderers play a quick free-kick to keep the pressure up, their outlook has completely changed in the last five minutes. Can they maintain it though? Sydney FC will always create chances so you need to take yours when you get the chance. Even as I’m typing this, Sydney sweep up the other end and win a corner. It comes to nothing, but just a warning to the Wanderers that they need to make the most of their spell of dominance.
26 mins: They might not have got the penalty they wanted, but that little bit of controversy seems to have sparked the Wanderers. A few minutes ago, Sydney FC were turning the screw, since then it’s been all Wanderers. The leaders look a little ruffled.
24 mins: Bit of a let-off for Sydney FC. The pundits are saying it was a penalty but I don’t think Zullo had much of a chance to get out the way. He was turning away from the ball and had his arms tucked into his chest. Definite corner though. They get another corner a few minutes later but fail to beat the first man and the danger passes.
22 mins: After a bit of push and shove, the Wanderers finally take a short free-kick. It’s then drilled into the box, hits Zullo’s hand and flies out. Penalty? Corner? The ref says goal kick. Baffling decision.
19 mins: Wasted opportunity for Sydney. Brosque the man at fault with a poor cross after a speedy counter-attack. Ominous stuff though. The Wanderers need to start asking questions of Sydney or they’ll end up getting swamped soon. As it is, they’ve got a free-kick on the edge of the Sydney area for a handball. A chance?
17 mins: The boos might increase a couple of decibels after that little spell of brilliance from Janjetovic. At the risk of jinxing him, he’s handled the pressure well. The Wanderers get a spell of possession and, wisely, decide to pass it around the back, taking some of the pace out of the game.
15 mins: Great save from Janjetovic (if a little overly acrobatic) from a dipping header off a corner. Pressure mounting on Wanderers, but they’ve withstood it well so far.
14 mins: The first signs of Sydney starting to up their game. A couple of corners come to nothing, but then Holosko steals in for a low cross and knocks it goalwards only for Janjetovic to save it – not that he knew much about it.
12 mins: Holosko with his first sight of goal, but his drilled shot is just diverted off target by the stretched leg of Aspro. Great run, even better tackle.
10 mins: A promising bit of pressure, sparked by some nice movement from Martinez, comes to nothing for the Wanderers. Nothing in it as both teams battle for control of the midfield. Sydney passing it around the back, they don’t seem in any rush to force the issue but then why would they? Confidence is high and they have so many goalscoring options they can afford to wait for one to spring up. Grant almost breaks through but just can’t get on the end of the pass.
7 mins: Both teams playing with gusto but the aggression has been kept on a leash. So far. Neither side in the ascendancy, and no sniffs of goal yet either.
5 mins: Every touch Janetovic gets is met with a round of booing. No surprises there, it’s just a question of how long the Cove keep it up. It’s been a little scrappy so far, although that’s more to do with the harrying and chasing of both sides rather than any obvious errors.
3 mins: Sotirio wins a foul from Calver on the left flank, a little bit of experience on show there as he clearly played for an FK without making it look obvious. Dangerous free-kick into the box from Dimas but it flies straight into the keeper’s hands.
1min: Peeeeeeeeep! And after much booing of Janjetovic, we’re off. The Wanderers get us under way. An early cross into the box is overhit and Sydney clear with ease. The Sky Blues have their foot on the ball now, playing it around calmly.
If there are reasons for optimism for the Wanderers, then Arnold’s comments underline one of them – overconfidence. The Sky Blues were distinctly underwhelming against the Mariners last time out, and the talk among some fans this week was not if they’d win, but by how many.
Their defensive depth will be tested too. Arnold has opted to throw Aaron Calver into the heart of defence. It’s not exactly ideal to chuck a 20-year-old – just back from long-term fitness problems – into the starting line-up in front of 40,000 fans but thems the breaks. It might just give the Wanderers a chance to find a crack in that brick wall.
Sydney FC: Danny Vukovic (gk), Michael Zullo, Aaron Calver, Alex Wilkinson, Rhyan Grant, Milos Dimitrijevic, Brandon O’Neill, Filip Holosko, Milos Ninkovic, Alex Brosque, Bobo. Subs: Andrew Redmayne, Bernie Ibini, David Carney, Matt Simon, Patrick Flottmann.
Western Sydney Wanderers: Vedran Janjetovic (gk), Jack Clisby, Mitch Nichols, Dimas (c), Nicolás Martinez, Scott Neville, Jaushua Sotirio, Kearyn Baccus, Robert Cornthwaite, Jonathan Aspropotamitis, Lachlan Scott. Subs: Jerrad Tyson (gk), Brendan Hamill, Bruno Pinatares, Jumpei Kusukami, Abraham Majok
Obviously the big news is Calver starting at centre-half. The right decision from Arnold? Out of the few options he had, I think it’s probably the right call. A bit of a shake-up up-front from the Wanderers too. They need to try something to solve their goalscoring woes.
The other talking point this week is two former Sydney FC favourites ditching the sky blue for a spell in red and black – namely Vedren Janjetovic and Terry Antonis. I think it’s fair to say there’s more sympathy for Antonis than Janjetovic from the Sky Blues faithful – largely because of the shot-stopper’s parting shot at his former club. I suspect he’s earned himself a chorus of boos from the Cove for that outburst.
It’ll be interesting to see how Antonis fares when he finally gets another A-League game. He desperately needs the minutes and, at 23, still has a big future ahead of him if he can find his form. He’s not in the squad tonight though.
While we’re waiting, let’s have a look at the previous game between these two – namely Sydney FC’s 4-0 win at ANZ Stadium. As Mitch Nichols pointed out this week, Sydney may have won but keeper Danny Vukovic had to pull off several fine saves to keep Wanderers at bay. It makes Arnold’s midweek dig look even more fate-tempting.
I like a bit of pre-game banter as much as the next guy but I’m not sure what Arnold was trying to achieve with that one. To get under Popovic’s skin? Maybe, but was it necessary considering the disproportionate momentum going into this game? In all likelihood he’s just given the Wanderers some extra motivation. It’s the footballing equivalent of a showboating boxer sticking out his chin and goading his opponent to try and hit him, which kind of makes Sydney FC the Floyd Mayweather to the Wanderers’ Conor McGregor. Not sure who comes off worst in that metaphor.
I hope he (Arnold) is right. Because if he (Vukovic) doesn’t make a save it means he’s pulling the ball out of the net. – Tony Popovic
Of course, no Sydney derby build-up would be complete without an obligatory wind-up attempt from serial fire-stoker Graham Arnold. After previously inviting Wanderers fans to his Sydney mansion, the man with a love for architecture metaphors went for brick walls this time (although it might just have been a reference to the fact that Sydney has resembled a kiln at various times this week). It’ll be interesting to see if he squeezes in a reference to Frank Gehry before the next derby.
Our defence starts from the front, we’ve got a brick wall, we’ve conceded seven goals in 14 games and again our defence starts from the front, we’ve had many games where Danny Vukovic hasn’t had to make a save and the same will happen on Saturday night. – Graham Arnold
Evening everyone, thanks for joining me tonight. The temperature is high, the Allianz is rammed, and there’s so much tension in the air you can almost smell it – although that might just be the scent of KFC wafting in from the SCG next door. In short, we’re all set for a corker tonight and, while crispy chicken-loving Big Bash fans might disagree, there’s no doubt this is the hottest ticket in town (pyrotechnics after every boundary don’t count) with 40,000-plus fans expected to flow through the turnstiles in tonight’s sellout. As weathermen have been saying all week, it’s shaping up to be a scorcher in Sydney.
On paper, this match really shouldn’t warrant all that much attention. Sydney FC have been both an irresistible force and an immovable object this season, having scored exactly twice as many goals as the Wanderers during an undefeated campaign, while conceding a paltry seven, a figure that looks so anomalous on the A-League website I’m starting to think Russian hackers must be involved.
Richard will be here shortly. In the meantime, take a moment to look at David Squires’ latest cartoon, featuring toilet humour, John Kosmina and Sussan Ley.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/jan/14/a-league-sydney-fc-v-western-sydney-wanderers-live
- Berisha hits winner at AAMI Park after Cahill opener
- Victory leapfrog City to go into second place on ladder
It was all shaping up to be another Tim Cahill fairytale, but in the end it was an A-League stalwart who grabbed the glory – and a place in the record books. It’s only a matter of time before Besart Berisha makes that all-time goalscoring record his own, and he’ll no doubt pass triple figures at some stage too, but for now he’ll be happy with deservedly firing his team into second place on the ladder.
The game itself wasn’t always pretty, and the foul count seemed in danger of going through the AAMI Park roof at one stage, but there’s no denying the excitement and passion on show from both teams tonight made for a gripping contest. It came down to tactics in the end, with Victory’s incision and ability to create clear chances proving the difference. For all their huff and puff, City only looked dangerous when they pumped deep balls towards Cahill – whereas Victory had several clear cut shots on goal.
It’s all over, Victory claim the bragging rights at the third time of asking this season. It’ll taste all the sweeter as a result.
90+3 mins: Last chance for City. Free-kick into the box… but Thomas charges off his line to claim it.
90+2mins: Georgieviski comes on for Berisha. No record today, but he’s one step closer. The sub almost scores straight away. He’s causing all sorts of trouble. Time ticking away.
90 mins: Pressure building from City. Kilkeny with a volley that’s deflected wide for another corner. Victory hoof it away to safety. Four minutes of injury time.
89 mins: The clock is running down for City. Cahill with a last-minute header? He’s looked their most dangerous player in front of goal. Late corner.
86 mins: Troisi denied from close range. That would have been game over. As it is, City are still in it, but despite plenty of possession they haven’t troubled Thomas too much. Victory on the verge of going second with a game in hand.
84 mins: Do Victory deserve to be ahead? Possibly. They’ve defended solidly and had the better chances. Rojas comes off for Beister. The Kiwi has done well to last so long and played a huge part in Victory’s performance.
81 mins: Kamua comes off for Fitzgerald as City chase the game. Berisha looks rejuvenated. He wants that goalscoring record all to himself.
78 mins: Berisha! The striker fires into an empty net as Bouzanis tries to shut down the cut-back from Rojas. He doesn’t get there in time and Berisha smashes home. Very, very close to being offiside though – could have gone either way.
76 mins: Ingham so close to putting Victory in front after being fed through by Troisi. Bouzanis “makes himself big” and blocks the shot. Good work from the keeper.
74 mins: Both sides desperate to find the winner but it might be a case of who’s got the legs for it. The intensity and pace of the game has sapped a lot of energy but neither side is willing to take their foot off the gas. City on top at the minute.
72 mins: More niggly fouls, this time Kamua gives one away. There’s been 30 fouls so far, and with more than a few tired legs out there that figure is going to keep climbing higher and higher.
69 mins: Brattan is struggling for City. He got a knock in the first half but he’s still waving away calls from the bench. Colazo goes in the book for whacking the ball into the stands after Victory win a free-kick in dangerous territory. Rojas takes it but it fails to trouble Bouzanis.
67 mins: Right, can we get back to some football please? All this posturing is getting boring. Brandan has visions of glory as he charges down the left flank and blasts the ball goalwards from distance… but it sails miles over. Much hilarity among the Victory faithful.
65 mins: Yet more push and shove after a foul throw from Franjic and a foul by Troisi. The referee calms things down, but there’s a permanent crackle in the air. It’s only going to take one spark.
64 mins: Donachie renters the fray after having his face taped up for a boot to the face. There’s no polite way of saying this, he looks like the elephant man.
63 mins: Cahill with another header that goes inches wide. So close. He seems to levitate every time he gets near it.
62 mins: Rose comes off for Muscat. Hopefully the delay takes away some of the heat that’s been building the last few minutes.
59 mins: Dear oh dear. More handbags. Geria goes in the book for a shove on Brandan, who flies to the ground. Teammates get involved and soon Berisha and Fornaroli are in the book too. Tensions in danger of bubbling over.
56 mins: Handbags time. It was always going to happen at some stage. Bouzanis pushes and shoves with Berisha and Donachie. The referee sensibly waits for it to peter out and the game resumes.
55 mins: Victory getting back into it now. Successive corners give the City defence something to think about, but Bouzanis comes out confidently to claim the ball and stop the danger.
54 mins: Kalfallah with a charge down the left wing to relieve some of the pressure on Victory. His eventual cross is easily blocked but at least it buys the visitors some breathing space. Not for long though. City go straight up the other end and win a corner… but it comes to nothing.
52 mins: Oooo, close. Fornaroli with a great opportunity – but he fluffs it, volleying over at close range after a great knock back from Franjic. City asking all the questions.
49 mins: It’s been all City so far this half, although they’ve not really troubled the Victory net. A deep ball towards Tim Cahill might change that.
47 mins: A low inswinger causes some confusion in the Victory defence but they eventually hoof it away. Can both sides maintain the tempo of the first half? It was exciting stuff, if not exactly pretty at times. City still making the early running.
We’re back, and there’s been no change of personnel during the break. City on the attack early and win a free-kick on the right-hand side of the box for their troubles.
Brandan with the final touch of the half … and it’s very close to a goal, skidding inches wide of Thomas’ net. All square as we go into the break. Catch you in 15 mins.
45+1 mins: Cahill goes into the book much to the delight of the Victory fans. Bit of argy bargy while chasing the ball after the whistle. One more mistimed tackle and he could be in serious trouble.
45 mins: Lovely stuff from Fornaroli, taking a couple of touches under pressure to control a bouncing ball on the edge of the area, then unleashing a powerful shot straight at Thomas. A few inches either side of the keeper would have seriously troubled him. That might be the last chance of the half.
43 mins: The free-kick into the box comes to nothing, but every time a high ball falls within a 2m radius of Cahill’s head there’s a crackle of tension in the air. It’s just out of his range this time.
42 mins: City with a bit of possession, but Victory are defending tenaciously – a little too tenaciously in some cases. Fornaroli is brought down and City win a free-kick on the far right of the box.
39 mins: Victory finishing the half strongly, and if Berisha had his shooting boots on they could be a couple of goals clear by now. Muscat will be happy with how his side have dealt with that Cahill goal. All the best chances have fallen to them since then, some of them gift-wrapped by City.
37 mins: Franjic goes in the book for what could be generously called a full-blooded challenge on Khalfallah. Surprisingly few bookings so far – plenty of fouls, but nothing too serious. The referee has handled things well.
35 mins: Frenetic. It’s a word that gets used far too often to describe football games but it fits this one perfectly. Rojas creates some space with a few stepovers, but his final shot goes straight down the keeper’s throat. Seconds later, Berisha gets another chance but he goes to ground under pressure. No penalty claims, but he was very close to getting a shot away. Tongyik walking a fine line in the heart of the City defence.
32 mins: Thomas is far too casual with a pass back and almost – allllmost – gets caught in possession by Brandan. Risky stuff.
29 mins: Brandan does his now traditional three-turn roll on the floor after the slightest of touches, prompting more boos from an already tense crowd. End to end stuff at the minute, City look more dangerous up front but their defence doesn’t exactly inspire.
26 mins: Berisha should have made it two! He could have the goalscoring record in his pocket by now – the Albanian had all the time in the world after a ball over the top, but stroked it straight to Bouzanis.
24 mins: Rojas marks his return in style! Poor defending from Tongyik, failing to clear with a head then fluffing the follow-up. It lands with Rojas, who curls home. All square.
23 mins: Victory have responded well since the goal, harrying City all over the park. Rojas charges forward but his final through-ball is cut out before it can reach Fornaroli. Bouzanis is seeing more of the ball now.
21 mins: It’s all about Cahill at the minute. He’s been escorted off after getting another knock to the head. Play continues but he’s eager to get back on. No lasting damage.
19 mins: Now Cahill – who’s sporting a bandaged head after some overzealous celebrating – gets a stern talking to from referee Gillett after a strong challenge after the whistle had gone. Lucky not to get booked. Victory fans were braying.
17 mins: Cahill! It had to be. And surprise, surprise it’s a header. A deep corner to the back stick, Cahill muscles out two Victory players and nods it into the net. Textbook Timmy.
14 mins: Much better work from Bouzanis after being given a hospital pass under pressure. He calmly plays it out and the danger clears. City just shading it at the minute but not by much.
12 mins: Poor corner from Brattan… much to the delight of the Victory fans.
11 mins: Berisha gives away a foul after chopping down Brattan. A few niggly tackles from both teams, Fornaroli is bundled over by two Victory players to give City a free-kick 40 yards out. It doesn’t come to anything, but Victory struggle to clear and it leads to a spell of pressure form City. Corner for the hosts.
8 mins: It’s been more of an arm-wrestle than a blood-and-guts battle so far. Both sides trying to stomp some dominance on things but perhaps guilty of being a little over eager in the hunt for an early goal. A few stray passes all over the park.
6 mins: Berisha scuffs a clear chance after being put clean through. Poor finish – very unusual for Berisha. Touch of nerves perhaps? Would be unlike him but it happens to even the best players.
4 mins: Bouzanis has already made two slightly dodgy clearances. Not a great sign, especially in light of what happened to the Jets goalkeeper last night. What a howler that was. Berisha takes a shot that strikes Tongyik’s arm. Not much the young defender could have done about that, no penalty.
3 mins: Brattan whips in the corner but he can’t get it past the first defender and Victory are safe.
Peeeeeep! Referee Jarred Gillett blows his whistle and we’re off. An early scuff from Bouzanis gives Victory a throw-in but they give it back immediately. City making the early running. Brandan earns an early corner with some trickery down the left.
A big roar as the players finally file out to the strains of Fatboy Slim. Scarves aloft all around AAMI Park.
Not long to go now. How will City’s defence cope without their best defender? Berisha must be licking his lips. Must admit I fancied City to nick it before the team sheets came out. Now I’m erring towards Victory. That’s enough fence-sitting from me for now anyway. The players are just about to run out.
The team sheets are in and the big news is Jakobsen is missing for City, with early reports suggesting it’s due to a calf strain. That’s a big blow. The silver lining is Fernando Brandan has recovered from that horrific eye gouge he suffered at the hands of Rhyan Grant last week. What a trooper. As expected, Rojas is back for Victory.
Melbourne City: Dean Bouzanis (GK), Josh Rose, Ivan Franjic, Neil Kilkenny, Ruon Tongyik, Nicolas Colazo, Bruce Kamau, Tim Cahill, Bruno Fornaroli (c), Luke Brattan, Fernando Brandan
Melbourne Victory: Lawrence Thomas (GK), Jason Geria, James Donachie, Alan Baro, Leigh Broxham, Oliver Bozanic, James Troisi, Carl Valeri (c), Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Besart Berisha, Marco Rojas.
Berisha isn’t the only striker on the pitch who can single-handedly turn a game – Bruno Fornaroli is more than capable of grabbing the headlines tonight, and not just because he likes dropping the F-bomb on national telly. Victory fans are all too aware of what the foul-mouthed forward is capable of, having scored four goals in as many derby games. Tough to pick out the best but this one was pretty special.
The other talking point this week has been Besart Berisha, and if/when everyone’s favourite
cranky Kosovan will pass Archie Thompson’s A-League goalscoring record. After single-handedly ripping apart the Wanderers last week, you wouldn’t put it past him bagging a brace this weekend to take his tally to 91.
Whatever your view on booing, I’m not quite sure what Cahill hoped to achieve by having a moan about it. He’s guaranteed to cop a load more today as a result. On the flip side, Cahill has a happy knack of rising to the occasion, so if he does get a lot of flak expect him to save a penalty with his head or something.
Speaking of which, I’ll never miss an opportunity to plug a David Squires cartoon … but seeing as I’ve already been beaten to it (on my own blog no less), I’ll just provide a simple hyperlink to his take on the Cahill booing saga. The Simpsons reference took me back to the episode where “Timmy”
is trapped down a well and claims he was turned away from school because of his shabby clothes – cue a round of booing from the crowd. Principal Skinner feels your pain Mr Cahill.
Evening everyone, thanks for joining me for the pick of this weekend’s games as two bitter city rivals fight for the right to be recognised as Sydney’s main challengers at the top of the A-League table. It’s the football equivalent of two siblings scrapping over who gets the top bunk, only to discover Graham Arnold is already up there, snoozing away and occasionally mumbling “Tasmania United” in his sleep.
With Sydney facing a tricky assignment in Perth shortly after this clash, it’s the perfect chance to pinch Arnold’s nose and put a little bit of pressure on the leaders before they kick-off. The question is who’ll seize the initiative?
Richard will be here shortly but in the meantime, check out the latest from David Squires.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2016/dec/17/melbourne-derby-melbourne-victory-vs-melbourne-city-a-league-live
- Newcastle Jets 2-1 Adelaide United at McDonald Jones Stadium
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Tweet: @RichardGadbsy1
Where to start with that one? Hats off to Newcastle for battling right to the end. They’re in the top six now after back-to-back wins and, who knows, with confidence building and quality players returning from injury, they might well stay up there.
But it was an analysis-defying performance from Adelaide. Did someone hear a whistle at the 90-minute mark and figure the game was over? They just seemed to clock off. The Reds dominated possession, had several clear chances and towards the end had Newcastle on the ropes – yet they got what they deserved purely for that bizarre final three minutes.
Unsurprisingly, that’s it. Newcastle have won it with almost the last kick of the game. Duncan at the other end of the pitch looks like a very relieved man.
90+4 mins: And that IS the winner! Nordstrand nicks it in injury time, making no mistake where his two teammates failed just moments earlier.
90+3 mins: No… THAT should have been the winner! Hoole goes clean through but hits the outside of the post. How did he miss?
90+2 mins: That should have been the winner! Brown in a one-on-one with the keeper but it’s a poor effort straight at the shotstopper.
90+1 mins: Mileusnic comes on for Cirio as Adelaide make a last roll of the dice/eat up more time.
89 mins: Late corner for the Jets. Leilei flicks it in but a good punch from Galekovic clears the danger. The Jets keep the pressure up but Boogaard commits a cynical foul just as the Reds are looking to break away and that’s that.
87 mins: Not long to go, and a share of the spoils would probably be about right. Leilei comes on for Nabbout – who deservedly gets a big round of applause. He’s been the best player on the pitch.
85 mins: Like new year fireworks in the rain, this game is starting to fizzle out. Adelaide look the more likely to nick it – especially as Duncan is clearly rattled by that error. If I was Amor, I’d be telling his team to pepper the goal from all angles.
82 mins: Adelaide look a lot more confident since that slice of luck to get them back in the game. Is that the moment when they get their old magic back and charge back up the table? Probably not, but it’s definitely lifted them.
81 mins: Hoffman with a free header at the back post, but the angle is too fine and he can only find the sidenetting. It was a definite chance though, he might have been put off by his own man (Brown) lurking behind him.
80 mins: Ugarkovic with a glancing header from distance but it’s too high and Galekovic watches it sail over the bar. Is there another goal in this game? It feels like it, although it’s tough to say who’s more likely to nick it.
78 mins: Kitto comes on for Guardiola as Adelaide finally make that change.
77 mins: That goal has changed the whole complexion of the game, there’s a little bit of nervousness creeping into the Jets defence.
75 mins: Some of the fire has gone out of the game, though that might be an intentional ploy by Adelaide who are passing it around with a little bit more confidence now.
73 mins: The Duncan howler is currently on repeat on my Twitter feed. It get worse with every viewing.
70 mins: The Jets on the attack at the other end, winning a couple of corners as they look to hit straight back. There’s a bit of a scramble from the second one but Adelaide get away with it.
68 mins: Dear oh dear. A howler from Duncan. What should have been an easily dealt with free-kick from Isaias is curled in straight to the keeper’s chest – but instead of catching it, he goes for the punch and it flies off the bottom of his fist, hits the deck, then bounces into the roof of the net. Adelaide have had enough chances to say they deserve that.
66 mins: Adelaide pushing and probing for an opening. A great ball through finds Henrique and Hall nicks the back of the legs juuuust before he reaches the box. Free-kick on the left for Adelaide.
64 mins: Time for Adelaide to change things up. The subs are warming up. Henrique again very close to going clean through from a curling Carrusca pass – but he controls it with his arm.
61 mins: The Jets whip a free-kick into the box – but the referee blows for a bit of push and shove and Adelaide are off the hook. The pace has slowed down again, though chances are still coming. Boogaard makes a fantastic block to deny Guardiola at the back post. It didn’t look pretty but the ball was bouncing at an awakward height and he didn’t have many options under pressure.
58 mins: The substitute almost makes an instant impact – catching the defence flatfooted (most of them looking to the linesman for help), then cracking a shot on the edge of the box straight at the keeper.
57 mins: Nordstrand on for Clut as Newcastle make the first change of the game.
55 mins: Carrusca slices one wide for Adelaide. The Jets still look the more likely to score but Adelaide have had more than enough chances to get off the mark. Newcastle win a corner and Mullen just manages to punch it to safety under pressure.
52 mins: Terrible miss from Hoole. So bad it made me chuckle. The Jets man charges into the box full of intent but the final ball slices off the side of his boot and flails wide to the relief of Galekovic.
49 mins: Another Jets free-kick after a failed Adelaide counter-attack. They play it short, and pass it all the way back to Duncan… who takes a nervous touch before passing it out wide. They don’t do defensive passing quite as fluently as Adelaide.
47 mins: The Jets still doing all the running, looking more urgent to get it up the pitch. Hoole pounces on an error and sets Brown free. He can’t get a decent shot away but he still wins a corner.
Peeeeep! And we’re back. Adelaide with the kick-off and – surprise, surprise – they’re happy to play it around the back four. That possession counter keeps ticking higher and higher – but the scoreline stays the same.
Right now, I’d say the chances of Adelaide claiming back-to-back titles are about as realistic as this.
It has been pretty blatant. The Jets would have been clean through a couple of times if not for a some cynical trips on the halfway line.
The whistle blows and the Jets jog off with their heads up. You can tell which team is winning from body language alone. Catch you in 15 mins.
45 mins: Henrique is cutting a frustrated figure as he gives away an offside. A couple of inches and he would have been clean through. That could be their last chance of the half.
43 mins: A little bit of possession from Adelaide goes to waste when Henrique catches Brown with a stretched leg. The free-kick finds Hoole on the right (again sunning himself in miles of space) but he can’t find the target. Poor shot really, but under pressure.
41 mins: Half-time looming and the Jets are looking reasonably comfortable. Adelaide are giving them acres of space in the middle of the pitch, very little pressing from the midfielders.
39 mins: Duncan is almost caught out after taking a poor first touch. His second touch, under pressure, could have gone anywhere – luckily it goes straight to the boots of Boogaard, who kicks it out. Safety first. Again.
37 mins: Boogaard with a great sliding tackle to deny Henriques. He’s already made a big difference for the Jets. No nonsense, simple stuff – but he does it well.
35 mins: Adelaide look like they’ve had the stuffing knocked out of them. Clut with a glancing header but it barely troubles Galekovic. The Jets have opened them up far too often.
31 mins: Adelaide were carved open like a turkey at Christmas. That’s happened far too often this season and is the reason they’re in the predicament they’re in. All the more galling is it was somewhat against the run of play.
29 mins: Nabbout with the opener… although he took his sweet time. Clut is slotted through and times his ball to Nabbout perfectly just as the defender commits himself. It leaves Nabbout with a one-on-one with the keeper – and he takes an age to get it under control before picking his spot and passing it into the net. The recovering defender very nearly saved the day for Adelaide.
27 mins: The Jets trying to get back into it now, although their passing is not quite as fluid as Adelaide. Hoffman ends up in the book after an, admittedly unintentional, studs-up challenge following a poor first touch.
24 mins: Adelaide have had two thirds of the possession in the last 10 minutes. Hardly a siege but in this weather it only takes one mistake under pressure to open the door. The tempo seems to have settled a little since that opening 20 minutes, Adelaide putting their foot on the ball and knocking it around… until La Rocca cuts down Clut and gives away a free-kick.
22 mins: It’s chucking it down out there – and Adelaide are raining crosses into the box. McGowan jumps to connect with a deep free-kick – but he leaps suspiciously high and is penalised for climbing up Boogaard’s back. Jets holding on a little bit.
20 mins: Another corner for Adelaide, Carrusca whips it in but a solid defensive head clears it way outside the box. When it’s pumped back in, Guardiola is clearly offside and the whistle blows.
17 mins: Henrique under pressure in a race to get to the ball first but his deflected shot crawls inches wide as Duncan watches on helplessly. From the corner, they hit the post with a free header. Adelaide starting to get on top with a spell of pressure.
15 mins: The Jets seem intent on whipping balls into the box, but they just aren’t quite connecting with the forwards. Nabbout is the danger man so far. Meanwhile Adelaide are still lurking with intent, still a subdued version of their title-winning selves though.
12 mins: It’s been a pretty open game so far, the Jets edging it. Nabbout breaks through on the left after timing his run to perfection – but his delivery into the box isn’t quite so perfect, curling the ball tamely into the keeper’s hands. Not his usual standard.
10 mins: Holland is furious – John Tomic furious – after a 50-50 collision with Carrusca. The Adelaide man seemed to go over the top of the ball. The ref gives the free-kick the other way and the resulting shot whistles past the post.
7 mins: Bit better from Adelaide, Elrich and Carrusca both denied by swinging defensive legs in and around the Jets area – then Boogaard puts his foot through it. Safety first.
5 mins: More danger from the Jets with crosses into the box but Adelaide just about escape, somehow. If the Jets could finish they’d be dangerous.
3 mins: OOooo! Duncan gets a fingertip to the ball to poke it onto the post and deny Cirio an early goal. The subsequent corner fails to beat the first man and the Jets escape. Early action at both ends.
2 mins: Elrich gets his head on the cross before it can reach Hoffman at the back stick. No real danger.
Peeeeeep! And we’re off. Newcastle making most of the early running, in pretty safe areas as far as Adelaide are concerned. But the Jets have an early free-kick from about 35 yards out.
Poor Friday night weather and a clashing schedule with the carols in King Edward Park means it could be a fairly silent night in the stands. That was seriously the best pun I could come up with. The teams are out now anyway, kick-off imminent.
Did anyone else feel that an excellent performance by the Jets last week was drowned out by the noise of pundits frantically wringing their hands over what was wrong with Perth? I’ve been as guilty as anyone of writing off the Jets this season – but they could have won by more and Mark Jones’ post-match comments regarding the return of Daniel Mullen, Nigel Boogaard, Andrew Nabbout et al gave me pause for thought…
It’s not rocket science. You take five or six starting players out of any team in the world, and the team’s going to struggle. If we keep playing the same way [we did against Perth], it would be nice to sneak into the six.
If Adelaide do manage to turn things around and fight their way back up the A-League ladder, it will be even more remarkable this year seeing as they’ve just been given the draw from – well, maybe not hell but a suburb within commuting range of the hell CBD – in the Asian Champions League. Of course, a win against Jeonbuk Motors or Jiangsu Suning could also regalvanise their season. So let’s raise that half-full glass to Adelaide on their ACL quest.
Newcastle Jets: Duncan, Mullen, Hoffman, Boogaard, Ugarkovic, Hoole, Poljak, Brown, Vujica, Nabbout, Clut. Subs: Cowburn, Ma, Nordstrand, Koutrambis, Clark
Adelaide Utd: Galekovic, La Rocca, McGowan, Garuccio, Elrich, Carrusca, Isiais, Holland, Cirio, Henrique, Guardiola. Subs: Regan, Mells, Hall, Mileusnic, Kitto
A little reminder of what happened the first time these two met back in October. It’s worth a look just to watch the hapless comedy of errors that led to United’s equaliser – Jack Duncan pulling off a perfect slide tackle against his own defender to set up the goal for (heyyyy) Makarounas. Marvellous stuff.
Evening everyone, thanks for joining me for tonight’s clash between two teams eager to get past the burly bloke manning the door to the top six, but struggling to remember which pocket they put their finals credentials in. Not that Gui Amor has any qualms about manhandling authority figures.
And while the top six might seem a little bit of a stretch for a couple of clubs who were propping up the rest of the table recently, stranger things have happened… like this time last season when Adelaide were in the same position, went on what the experts call a “stonking run”, and ended up winning the whole shebang. Not that there’s been much evidence of a similar revival for the Reds this year.
Richard will be with you shortly. In the meantime, check out the latest A-League cartoon from our genius in residence, David Squires.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2016/dec/16/a-league-adelaide-united-vs-newcastle-jets-live