Category Archive: Sydney FC

Sydney FC News

Mar 26

A-League: Sydney FC celebrate Premiers’ Plate with win over Perth

  • Sydney FC 3-0 Perth Glory at nib Stadium
  • Wellington Phoenix 5-0 Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium

Sydney FC have celebrated winning the A-League Premiers’ Plate in style with a decisive 3-0 victory over Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Sunday. An own goal on 38 minutes from Glory debutant Lucian Goian, Brandon O’Neill’s sweet strike three minutes later and a Bobo goal in the 63rd minute sealed an 18th win of the campaign for Sydney.

Having secured the first-past-the-post title after Brisbane Roar defeated Melbourne Victory on Saturday night, the Sky Blues are now an astonishing 14 points clear at the top of the table. Their total of 59 points is a record for a 27-round A-League season. With three rounds remaining before the finals, Sydney could break Roar’s record for a 30-round campaign of 65 points.

Related: Roar’s wonder goal sinks Victory and hands Premiers Plate to Sydney FC

Related: David Squires on … the fiery ending to Adelaide’s encounter with Brisbane

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Mar 13

Sydney FC’s underwhelming crowds should be cause for alarm | Mike Ticher

The A-League premiers-elect may not have been helped by scheduling or some inclement weather, but the low average is remarkably at odds with their success

This A-League season has been one of unprecedented success for Sydney FC, with only one defeat so far and the Premiers’ Plate all but sewn up with four games to go.

They have scored pretty freely, defended meanly and won convincingly, often against their bitterest rivals, with the single exception of a 1-0 defeat against Western Sydney Wanderers last month. New signings have performed brilliantly, injuries have been scarce and as a result the team has barely changed all season.

Related: Sydney close in on Premiers’ Plate with tight win over Mariners

Usually fans stay away from games when their team is struggling, not the polar opposite #SYDvCCM #aleague

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Mar 10

Sydney close in on Premiers Plate with tight win over Mariners

Sydney FC can officially claim the A-League Premiers Plate within 24 hours, after an underwhelming 1-0 win over Central Coast put them on the brink of a first trophy in seven seasons. The Sky Blues struggled to find their ruthless streak at Allianz Stadium on Friday night but Filip Holosko’s seventh goal of the season was enough to extend their lead to 14 points, meaning Melbourne Victory must defeat Perth at AAMI Park on Saturday evening to keep the race alive for another week.

Related: Les Murray and Craig Foster launch southern Sydney A-League bid

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Mar 10

A-League: Sydney FC 1-0 Central Coast Mariners – as it happened

  • All the action from Sydney FC’s 1-0 win over the Mariners at Allianz Stadium
  • Holosko hits the winner in tight clash

11.00am GMT

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.

10.47am GMT

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.

10.45am GMT

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.

10.44am GMT

90 mins: Time running out for the Mariners. They’ve played well without seriously threatening the Sky Blues.

10.42am GMT

10.41am GMT

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.

10.39am GMT

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.

10.38am GMT

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.

10.37am GMT

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.

10.35am GMT

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.

10.32am GMT

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.

10.29am GMT

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.

10.28am GMT

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.

10.26am GMT

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.

10.24am GMT

Now you’re talking. A guaranteed booking at the very least.

10.22am GMT

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.

10.20am GMT

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.

10.19am GMT

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.

10.17am GMT

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.

10.15am GMT

62 mins: Here we go. Pacey Pain on for big Bingham. The Mariners going for it.

10.14am GMT

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.

10.13am GMT

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.

10.11am GMT

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.

10.08am GMT

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.

10.07am GMT

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.

10.04am GMT

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.

10.03am GMT

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.

10.02am GMT

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.

9.59am GMT

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.

9.44am GMT

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.

9.42am GMT

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.

9.40am GMT

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.

9.39am GMT

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.

9.37am GMT

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.

9.34am GMT

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.

9.32am GMT

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.

9.30am GMT

9.29am GMT

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.

9.26am GMT

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.

9.23am GMT

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).

9.22am GMT

9.21am GMT

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.

9.18am GMT

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.

9.18am GMT

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.

9.15am GMT

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.

9.13am GMT

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.

9.09am GMT

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.

9.07am GMT

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.

9.06am GMT

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.

9.05am GMT

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.

9.03am GMT

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

9.02am GMT

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.

8.59am GMT

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.

8.57am GMT

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.

8.56am GMT

Kick-off looming. The Cove in good voice as the Sky Blues get ready in the centre circle.

8.54am GMT

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.

8.51am GMT

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.

8.46am GMT

Before this gets in danger of becoming too silly. Here are tonight’s line-ups. It looks ominous for that Mariners defence.

8.44am GMT

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

8.39am GMT

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.

4.02am GMT

Richard will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s David Squires’ latest cartoon, buddy.

Related: David Squires on … the world game changers: a recruitment advert for new A-League clubs

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Mar 08

No guarantee Tim Cahill will make final squad for qualifiers, says Postecoglou

  • Sydney FC goalkeeper Danny Vukovic earns Socceroos call-up
  • crucial World Cup qualifiers against Iraq and UAE coming up

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou says Tim Cahill and a trio of other regulars are not guaranteed to make his final 23-man squad for this month’s crucial World Cup qualifiers.

Cahill was a shock omission from November’s squad that drew 2-2 with Thailand due to an Achilles issue, and Postecoglou is concerned about the veteran striker’s lack of game time for Melbourne City.

Related: Graham Arnold the architect builds impressive Sydney FC machine | Jonathan Howcroft

Related: Socceroos slated to play Brazil in June friendly in Melbourne

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Mar 05

Graham Arnold the architect builds impressive Sydney FC machine | Jonathan Howcroft

The Sky Blues coach deserves credit not only for his tactics but also his squad-assembling after his side effectively secured the A-League’s Premiers’ Plate

The best team in the A-League defeated the second-best on Friday night to, barring the most spectacular of late-season implosions, confirm the destination of the Premiers’ Plate. The premiers-elect have won the most games this season, scoring the most goals and conceding the fewest along the way. The latest win was the third time in 18 weeks Sydney FC have overcome Melbourne Victory.

Related: A-League: Bobo strike seals Sydney FC victory in Big Blue

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Mar 03

A-League: Bobo strike seals Sydney FC victory in Big Blue

  • Sydney FC 1-0 Melbourne Victory at Allianz Stadium
  • Sky Blues likely to claim Premiers’ Plate after Bobo’s 60th minute winner

Sydney FC have effectively won their first piece of silverware in seven A-league seasons, dismantling Melbourne Victory 1-0 to all but claim the Premiers’ plate. Bobo buried his 11th goal of the campaign to seal Friday’s defining Big Blue, lifting the Sky Blues 11 points clear of second-placed Victory and rendering a comeback for Kevin Muscat’s men nigh on impossible.

Graham Arnold’s tearaway leaders need just four more points from the five remaining rounds to lift the trophy. It was the Brazilian striker’s name on the scoreboard 50 minutes in, but the goal really belonged to his whole team and was orchestrated by playmaker Milos Ninkovic.

Related: Sydney FC to unveil sea of rainbow flags in support of LGBTIQ community

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Mar 03

Sydney FC to unveil sea of rainbow flags in support of LGBTIQ community

  • Club to unveil large rainbow flag at ‘Big Blue’ in support of Mardi Gras
  • ‘We are committed to welcoming everyone into the Sky Blue family’

Last year they wore rainbow laces and this year Sydney FC will step up their Mardi Gras support by walking onto the pitch behind a sea of rainbow flags. The Sky Blues will be the first club in A-League history to promote LGBTIQ inclusion at a professional game when they take on Melbourne Victory in Friday’s Big Blue, a day before the Sydney gay and lesbian Mardi Gras parade.

They’ll be led onto the field by players from Sydney Rangers FC, Australia’s first football club for gay men, and The Flying Bats Women’s FC, the world’s largest lesbian football club, carrying a large rainbow flag and waving eight smaller flags.

Related: Barcelona open-mouthed, not broken-hearted, at Luis Enrique’s imminent exit

Related: Away Days: Matt Cleary at the gay Rugby World Cup

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Feb 24

Sydney FC put bad week behind them with win over Melbourne City

  • Melbourne City 1-3 Sydney FC at AAMI Park
  • Graham Arnold’s side return to winning ways after derby defeat

Graham Arnold believes the circus that followed the Sydney derby has galvanised his team for the A-League finals run-in, following a 3-1 win over Melbourne City on Friday night.

Sydney FC were defeated for the first time this season last weekend when cross-town rivals Western Sydney edged a tightly fought derby. The fall-out from that result would provided plenty of interest in itself.

Related: Western Sydney escape with $20,000 FFA fine for fans’ homophobic banner

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Feb 22

David Squires on … the Red and Black Bloc’s homophobic banner

Our cartoonist casts his eye over the incident which marred last weekend’s Sydney derby

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Feb 22

Fourteen Wanderers fans banned by club over roles in display of banner

  • Red and Black Bloc facing closure if further incidents occur
  • Graham Arnold says his daughters will no longer attend games

Western Sydney Wanderers’ active supporter group, the Red and Black Bloc, has been put on notice after 14 of its members were handed 18-month bans for their roles in the display of a homophobic banner last weekend.

Related: Wanderers fans hit out at FFA after club issued with show cause over banner

Related: Second-string Wanderers fall to heavy ACL defeat against Urawa Red Diamonds

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Feb 19

FFA condemn homophobic Wanderers fans’ banner in Sydney derby

  • Home fans display offensive tifo during pulsating derby
  • A-League chief warns ‘discriminatory’ image will not be tolerated

Football Federation Australia has roundly condemned a homophobic banner brandished by Western Sydney fans during Saturday night’s A-League Sydney derby, and foreshadowed punishment for those involved.

The banner, depicting a blue-faced man giving oral sex, was put up in the Wanderers’ support area at ANZ Stadium during the second half of the game, won 1-0 by the Wanderers.

Related: Wanderers end Sydney FC’s unbeaten run in pulsating A-League derby

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Feb 12

A-League is providing the thrills, but FFA’s inertia is cause for serious concern

A-League should be gearing up for all-action climax to the season, but the absence of hype is demoralising and momentum is being lost

Living near Australia’s east coast, the first thing I do in a morning is pour myself a steaming hot mug of bias. This fuels the daily search for A-League news, which consists of an exhaustive trawl through sources from Victoria all the way to New South Wales. But today, to my surprise, I was confronted by a disturbance in the force, the unavoidable presence of Perth Glory.

Under the cloak of west coast anonymity Glory have won four of their past six matches to move level on points with fourth-placed Melbourne City, just two behind next week’s visitors to nib Stadium and occupants of the third and final Asian Champions League qualification spot, Brisbane Roar. During this run Glory have scored at least twice in every match, culminating in the season’s biggest shellacking on Friday night.

Related: A-League: Castro nets twice as Perth Glory thrash Adelaide

Related: Sydney FC looking like A-League Invincibles after emphatic Phoenix win

Related: Depleted Melbourne City come back to earn draw against Brisbane Roar

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Feb 09

Sydney FC looking like A-League Invincibles after emphatic Phoenix win

  • Sydney FC 3-1 Wellington Phoenix at Allianz Stadium
  • Sydney extend their unbeaten run to 19 games on appalling pitch

Another week, another A-League win for table-topping Sydney FC, who made light work of Wellington to extend their unbeaten record to 19 games. Only eight matches now stand between the Sky Blues and their unprecedented Invincibles target, after Thursday night’s emphatic 3-1 win lifted them 12 points clear at the top.

The Allianz Stadium pitch was in poor shape after last weekend’s Sydney Sevens rugby event but Rhyan Grant, Bobo and Milos Ninkovic all chipped in to take their team’s tally to a league-high 41 goals.

Related: Melbourne City’s Bouzanis gets five-game A-League ban for racial slur

Related: David Squires on … an incident-packed Melbourne derby

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Feb 03

Sydney FC undefeated from 18 A-League starts after Brisbane draw

  • Brisbane Roar 0-0 Sydney FC at Suncorp Stadium
  • Sydney extend unbeaten A-League start to 18 games

They might have failed to break their Suncorp Stadium drought but Sydney FC still have history in their sights after their lively 0-0 A-League draw with Brisbane. The Sky Blues’ frustrating run continued in Brisbane – where they have not won since October 2014 – after a fiery, yet scoreless Friday night clash in front of 13,095 fans.

However, the Sydney FC juggernaut extended its unbeaten season start to 18 rounds – just two short of a remarkable record. They are in now sight of the best national soccer season start, which was Apia Leichhardt’s 20-game streak in 1987.

Related: Fifa reject FFA’s bid to delay reforms on Australian football governance

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Jan 29

Sydney FC’s Big Blue win comes more out of habit than reflected dominance | Sam Perry

But as the game against Melbourne Victory proved, it is for that very reason the chasing pack should retain optimism as the A-League finals near

Shut the gate, put down the glasses, tick it off, the fat lady has sung: Sydney FC are the A-League’s best team and will soon have a Premiers’ Plate to show for it.

Not that you’ll hear that from Graham Arnold and his cadre, of course. They speak with a pragmatism that complements their on-field spine, but no mistakes need be made: this is a team for whom winning seems their natural state, and Saturday’s Big Blue proved it.

Related: Sydney FC take giant stride towards premiership with win over Victory

Related: Sydney FC beat Melbourne Victory in A-League – as it happened

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Jan 26

Sydney FC take giant stride towards premiership with win over Victory

  • Melbourne Victory 1-2 Sydney FC at Etihad Stadium
  • Sky Blues come from behind to go 11 points clear at top of A-League ladder

Sydney FC salvaged a Big Blue win, coming from behind to defeat 10-man Melbourne Victory for the second time this season and in doing so, all but clinched the A-League premiership.

A star turn from Bernie Ibini just five minutes after coming off the bench on Thursday night won the match for the Sky Blues, after Filip Holosko cancelled out James Troisi’s fine opener for Victory.

Related: Sydney FC beat Melbourne Victory in A-League – as it happened

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Jan 26

Sydney FC beat Melbourne Victory in A-League – as it happened

  • Melbourne Victory 1-2 Sydney FC at Etihad Stadium
  • Sydney move 11 points clear at top of A-League ladder

10.59am GMT

Another huge win for Sydney, who overcame enforced changes at the back to weather a strong period from the home team and hit back with a killer blow. Michael Zullo was man of the match, and there were just over 30,000 there, which is a bit disappointing by Victory standards. That’s it for now, thanks for following.

10.56am GMT

Just a last thought on Bernie Ibini. Victory fans won’t enjoy it, obviously, but for neutrals and Sydney it’s great to see him show something of his huge ability again after such a terrible injury lay-off. Not a perfect performance, but he did everything right for the goal.

10.51am GMT

Sydney’s run goes on, and they are 11 points clear at the top. They are romping away with the title at this stage, and even with 10 games to go it’s hard to see them falling apart. It wasn’t all that pretty, but a typically hard-fought big blue. Victory will be gutted to have let a lead slip, and may have a case about Donachie’s red card, but Sydney were tough and organised, and scored two excellent goals. They rarely look dominant, but they keep winning.

10.48am GMT

92 min: O’ Neill gets a yellow for time-wasting. Four added minutes. Matt Simon is doing what he does in the corner, and that will probably be enough.

10.46am GMT

89 min: Oo-er. Zullo tangles with Rojas, then Troisi comes in and takes Zullo out in fairly dramatic fashion. Zullo was sent flying, but more of a barge than a punch, or anything like it. Yellow for Troisi and Zullo, and Victory get the free kick. Zullo out for Sydney’s next game.

10.45am GMT

88 min: Simon breaks well on the right, but can’t set up Ninkovic, who has run his legs off tonight. He can’t retrieve the ball.

10.43am GMT

87 min: Last Victory sub, Mahazi for Geria.

10.42am GMT

86 min: Victory aren’t done yet. Even with 10 they are pressing and denying Sydney time-wasting possession. Just hard to see where the clear chance will come from.

10.39am GMT

82 min: Now Calver, who has gone down several times with cramp, has to go off, replaced by Dimitrijevic. This means a bit of reorganisation for Sydney, with Brillante going to right back. Calver has done OK after a shaky start.

10.37am GMT

81 min: Ibini so dangerous on the break! Until he gives it to Simon. His feeble shot goes well wide. Yet to score this season.

10.36am GMT

80 min: Rojas header on target from a Georgievski cross, but Vukovic is safely behind it. Fair effort.

10.35am GMT

79 min: And now the second traditional Arnold change, Matt Simon for Bobô, who goes off not looking too happy. He must be used to it by now.

10.34am GMT

77 min: Replay of the Donachie incident suggests it was pretty harsh. To me at least. By the time he fouled there was another Victory defender directly in front of Brosque, so no question of denying a clear chance.

10.31am GMT

73 min: Another Victory sub, Georgievski for Bozanic. Then Brosque picks up a yellow for bringing down Rojas.

10.30am GMT

73 min: Not sure about that red card. Brosque wasn’t really through on goal, and it wasn’t particularly dangerous. Not one where you think instantly he’s going off, that’s for sure. From a Sydney point of view, Brosque and Ibini could easily have worked a clear scoring opportunity. They were lucky to end up with such a bonus.

10.28am GMT

72 min: Buijs takes the free kick, straight into the wall. O’Neill might have been a better option.

10.27am GMT

71 min: Brosque and Ibini break, they more or less mess it up, but Donachie hacks down Brosque on the edge of the area, and Gillett pulls out the red!

10.26am GMT

70 min: What have Victory got left? A bout of sustained pressure here, but not clear chance. Sydney’s defence is holding solid.

10.23am GMT

67 min: Missed a Victory sub in all that excitement. Jai Ingham came on for Khalfallah just before the goal.

10.22am GMT

66 min: That was a superb finish from Ibini, he had so much to do, but used great body strength and control before beating Thomas.

10.21am GMT

64 min: The sub slots it after shaking off two defenders from a Brosque header, and Sydney have come from behind again!

10.20am GMT

62 min: Berisha puts the ball in the net, but Rojas was offside from Troisi’s neat pass. Well offside, but nice idea. Troisi and Ninkovic look like the game-breakers, if there is one.

10.17am GMT

61 min: Valeri gets a yellow for pulling Brosque’s shirt.

10.16am GMT

60 min: Sydney sub, Ibini for Holosko. The conventional Arnold move on the hour.

10.15am GMT

58 min: Excellent save Vukovic! Sydney are all over the place from the corner, and when it breaks to Troisi at close range the Sydney keeper stands up and makes an outstanding reflex save. Troisi couldn’t quite get the power he needed to make sure.

10.13am GMT

57 min: Contrary to my predictions, it is something like a free-flowing end-to-end spectacle. Holosko wastes a chance to break, and now Victory have another corner after a mistake from Buijs.

10.12am GMT

55 min: Dearie me. Sydney let a Troisi free kick drop in the box and only just smuggle it clear. Then Khalfallah’s chip flicks off the top of the bar! Vukovic may or may not have had that covered.

10.11am GMT

55 min: Berisha, back to goal, has a chance to spin, but tries to set up Khalfallah instead, and Brillante has a chance to intervene.

10.10am GMT

54 min: More good build-up from Sydney through Brillante ends with a decent cross from Calver that just about clears everyone.

10.08am GMT

52 min: … eventually comes to nothing after a bit of hacking around in the area. Now it’s Victory’s defence that looks a bit rattled.

10.07am GMT

51 min: Ninkovic and Brosque work hard on the right and Calver wins a corner for Sydney…

10.06am GMT

49 min: Quiet start to the half. Eventually Troisi lobs in a free kick, but it’s easy for Vukovic.

10.01am GMT

We’re off again. Archie Thompson is worried about Sydney’s stamina and second half strength. He should be.

10.01am GMT

I love the A-League in Spanish.

HT @gomvfc 1-1 @SydneyFC Tablas al descanso de un #BigBlue en el que el MVC dio mejor impresión y el Sydney ejerció de líder.

9.59am GMT

I haven’t mentioned the state of the pitch. It’s not quite Suncorp awful, but the cricket pitch is giving some shocking bounces. Not good enough (again).

#BigBlue It is unbelievable that the FFA paid to reserve the right to play a final on such a dangerous poor ground. Waste of money.

9.57am GMT

9.54am GMT

9.53am GMT

9.50am GMT

Phil Withall emails with a dilemma. “Muscat or Arnie? It’s the old Trump or any other Republican situation all over again. How do you pick the lesser of two evils when both choices are dripping in negatives…” I couldn’t possibly comment, but I’m not sure who Trump is in this analogy.

9.47am GMT

Phew. Graham Arnold will be happy with the amount of battling in the second part of that half, after Victory had a 15min spell where they could easily have gone further ahead. No serious blues yet and only one card, but just as full-blooded in midfield as you would expect. Back soon!

9.44am GMT

45 min: Just one minute of added time. It’s been frantic.

9.41am GMT

40 min: Zullo… brings down Rojas, earning more abuse, then launches a long ball that almost looks like it will clear the onrushing Thomas, but he gets his head to, a good 15m out of his area.

9.39am GMT

39 min: That didn’t quite come out of nowhere, because Thomas had to make a good save immediately before, but Sydney will be hugely relieved because they had not looked very likely for much of the half.

9.38am GMT

37 min: The cross from Ninkovic, and a superb header from Holosko, Thomas no chance. Good response Sydney!

9.37am GMT

36 min: Now Thomas’s turn! Slightly scuffed effort from Bobô, but it was going in before Thomas stuck out a right hand.

9.35am GMT

35 min: Save, Vukovic! Rasping low drive from Troisi after Geria set him with a good run down the right. Berisha called offside for standing in the keeper’s eyeline, but it was a solid effort again (and a decent stop).

9.33am GMT

33 min: Khalfallah caught offside when he had so much room. Looking across the line! Unforgivable! Sydney exposed again down the left.

9.32am GMT

31 min: Buijs fires in a dangerous free kick and Geria has to head away almost from Thomas’s hands. Well, he didn’t have to, because Thomas probably would have collected it, but he did anyway.

9.30am GMT

30 min: Zullo now getting roasted by the home crowd, then cheered when his cross from the left is overhit. Not the player you would have picked as pantomime villain.

9.28am GMT

28 min: Geria gets a yellow for sliding through Zullo, which doesn’t improve the Sydney fullback’s mood.

9.27am GMT

26 min: Zullo slings off at a teammate (Brosque?) for not giving him a short option down the left. Early days, but the strain is showing a bit.

9.23am GMT

22 min: Rojas tries to lob Vukovic first time from a distance out on the right, but Vukovic is aware. Then he saves from much closer range from the same player! And has to punch the corner away, not 100% convincingly. Victory right on top here.

9.21am GMT

21 min: Rojas gets away down the right and Sydney are nervous as hell when the ball comes across. Eventually they bundle it away, but there’s some anxiety there.

9.19am GMT

20 min: That is the earliest goal Sydney have conceded this season.

9.19am GMT

18 min: That all came down the left again, with Calver caught out again by Khalfallah. Buijs didn’t cover quickly enough and Troisi was left in an alarming amount of space to guide it past Vukovic.

9.18am GMT

17 min: Troisi slots home from Victory’s first proper opening.

9.11am GMT

10 min: Sydney incidentally in an unusual all sky blue kit tonight. A little bit Coventry City, a little bit late 70s Man City. Which probably isn’t the effect they’re hoping for.

9.09am GMT

9 min: “You can’t let Sydney start clamping their jaws collectively on your possession play.” Thanks Harps.

9.08am GMT

8 min: Berisha tests out Buijs with a slight nudge after the ball has gone. The Dutchman does not endear himself to the crowd by going down theatrically with a couple of extra rolls.

9.07am GMT

7 min: Chance! From a long throw the ball gets to Holosko way too easily, but he scuffs it dreadfully.

9.06am GMT

5 min: Cross from the right for Victory is deflected almost into Berisha’s path, but he can’t connect properly. As expected, a cagey, combative start from both teams.

9.03am GMT

3 min: Ben Khalfallah takes on Calver, but his shot is awry. Still, they will surely look to get at Calver often.

9.02am GMT

2 min: Sydney free kick after a poor clearance from Thomas. But Buijs lobs it gently back to the Victory keeper.

8.59am GMT

A moment’s silence for the Bourke Street victims. The national anthem – Bozanic the only one to insist on the hand-on-heart thing. Broxham carries his very young child. Jarred Gillett is today’s ref. And it’s on!

8.46am GMT

Expectations through the roof.

Prediction: 0-0, 1 red card #bigblue

8.45am GMT

What kind of game can we expect? Graham Arnold has talked about how important it is to “win the battle”, to win the fight for the second ball and to “be prepared for the physical battle”. He went on to stress that the first 20 minutes of every game is a “fight”, and it’s about being “ready for the battle”. Also, did he mention that the key is “winning the battle”?

Given that a draw would satisfy Sydney much more than Victory, I think we can assume it’s unlikely to be a free-flowing end-to-end spectacle, unless and until Sydney go behind. Muscat reckons if Victory “put every brick in place” they will win. “Our best is good enough to beat them. We know that and they know it also.” Mind games – he’s the master.

8.40am GMT

Sydney’s unbeaten run from the start of the season now stretches to 16 games, and their lead at the top of the table is out to eight points after Victory’s defeats in Wellington and Perth, so this represents perhaps the last realistic opportunity for Kevin Muscat’s side to start reeling them in.

Form favours Victory in this fixture, having lost only one of the past 10 against Sydney, and that in controversial circumstances after David Carney definitely appeared to knock on before slotting the equaliser in November’s 2-1 win. This time last year a Matt Jurman own goal was enough to give Victory the win, and of course they also won a comfortable grand final against Sydney in very recent memory. Sydney will look back more fondly on 26 January 2014, when they came away with a stunning 5-0 win (Andy Harper: “It’s a hot knife through butter – No! It’s Sebastian Ryall!”).

8.30am GMT

Four changes for Victory, with Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Jason Geria, Oliver Bozanic and Marco Rojas returning. Leigh Broxham sets a club record, making his 225th appearance tonight. Mahazi, Ingham, Austin and Georgievski drop out, with George Howard on the bench and no place for Max Beister.

Here’s our line-up for #MVCvSYD at @EtihadStadiumAU tonight 7.50pm AEDT. We’ve made 4 changes to our starting XI. COYBIB!

TEAM NEWS | Here’s how the undefeated @SydneyFC line up tonight against @gomvfc #SydneyIsSkyBlue #BigBlue

8.25am GMT

Hi, thanks for joining us – hope you’ve been marking the day in whatever way you feel appropriate. It’s a huge sporting night in Melbourne, with Federer v Wawrinka in the Australian Open semi, but we’re here for the huge clash between Victory and Sydney, which has been a solid A-League tradition on 26 January for as long as … well, there was definitely one last year.

Feel free to offer constructive criticism through the usual channels.

12.56am GMT

Mike will be here shortly. In the meantime, in case you missed it earlier today, have a look at David Squires’ cartoon about tonight’s match, featuring Graham Arnold as Nick Cave, a neo-Nazi getting biffed and an alternative A-League truth.

Related: David Squires on … 26 January and the Big Blue

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Jan 25

David Squires on … January 26 and the Big Blue

Our resident cartoonist turns his attention to the Melbourne Victory-Sydney FC clash, the latter’s struggle for recognition and alternative A-League facts. You can find David’s archive of Australian sport cartoons here and he also has a book out

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Jan 22

Sydney FC’s premiership procession rolls on while A-League falters

In a season for the true believers, the A-League delivered a round full of certainties, but there is a fine line between dependable and boring

Good old dependable A-League, there when we need it most. While a skittish world fixated on events in Washington D.C. Australia’s professional football league delivered a comforting round full of certainties.

Sydney FC won (of course), Adelaide United and Central Coast Mariners lost (as they’ve become accustomed to) and Melbourne Victory continued their miserable run of form against Perth Glory (now eight games without a win). There was an unjust game-changing red card, Liam Reddy saved another penalty, and Kenny Lowe rattled off enough post-match zingers to warrant his own Netflix stand-up special. Sweet reassuring familiarity.

Related: David Squires on … fan behaviour at the Sydney derby

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