Category Archive: Sydney FC

Sydney FC News

Jul 31

‘Stranger things have happened’: Rovers prepare to meet Sydney FC in Darwin | Helen Davidson

The FFA Cup draw has thrown up a classic David and Goliath encounter between part-time players from the tropics and the three-time A-League champions

On a Tuesday evening Darwin Rovers are getting some extra training in at a suburban Darwin oval. They started late because some players hadn’t finished work, and they’re sharing the dying light with a few other sporting groups.

But every session helps ahead of the biggest game of their lives this week, against the reigning A-League champions, Sydney FC.

Related: Football in Australia: as big as it’s going to get? | Paul Connolly

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/aug/01/rovers-prepare-to-meet-sydney-fc-in-darwin

Jul 19

David Squires on … Arsenal’s pre-season trip to Sydney

Our resident cartoonist looks at the fallout from the Premier League club’s tour to Australia where they faced Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/ng-interactive/2017/jul/20/david-squires-on-arsenals-pre-season-trip-to-sydney

Jul 13

Alexandre Lacazette scores for Arsenal in friendly win over Sydney FC

Sydney FC 0-2 Arsenal

Mertesacker 4, Lacazette 83

New signing Alexandre Lacazette took only 15 minutes to score on his first outing in an Arsenal shirt as he helped to complete a 2-0 friendly victory over Sydney FC.

Related: Sydney FC 0-2 Arsenal: Lacazette scores in pre-season friendly – as it happened

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jul/13/alexandre-lacazette-scores-for-arsenal-in-friendly-win-over-sydney-fc

Jul 13

Sydney FC 0-2 Arsenal: Lacazette scores in pre-season friendly – as it happened

Goals from Per Mertesacker and Alexandre Lacazette gave the Gunners victory on their tour match at the ANZ Stadium

1.02pm BST

Job done then at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Arsenal will face much tougher opponents in the next few months, but they looked very sharp for a first hitout.

Coquelin, Nelson and Ozil stood out in the first half in which all Arsenal’s players did their bit. Wayward final balls and the absence of a strong presence in the box meant the scoreboard never fully reflected the balance of play, but this isn’t the first or last time you’re going to read that about Arsene Wenger’s side.

12.55pm BST

A good night for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal. Full house, strong performance and a debut goal for Alexandre Lacazette.

12.49pm BST

88 min: In a match that mattered Arsenal may well have howled louder for a penalty as Oxlade-Chamberlain hit the turf, but they’ll settle for a corner. That move the end product of another raking pass from the back. A noticeable change of approach between halves for Wenger, neat and central in the first half, direct and wide in the second.

12.48pm BST

87 min: 2-0 still flatters Sydney but they’re still plugging away, winning a corner and then almost fashioning a chance after it’s swung into the box.

12.45pm BST

That’ll do. Debut goal for Alexandre Lacazette. Swift attack down the right hand side, Lacazette times his run into the box to perfection to sidefoot home from eight yards. Exactly the kind of finish Arsenal have lacked all night. All about the timing of the run, no chance of marking that kind of movement.

12.42pm BST

81 min: Talking earlier about players maybe carrying an ounce or two of extra timber – Oliver Giroud doesn’t look as mobile as the rest of his teammates. Lacazette is one of those and he shows some nice footwork to buy a free-kick on the corner of the box. It comes to nought.

12.40pm BST

79 min: Ooooh, corner on the right for Arsenal and it’s clipped onto the post by Nketiah, lovely effort from the young substitute. Not long afterwards the ball pings around the Sydney box but the home side just about do enough to smuggle it clear.

12.38pm BST

77 min: The latest clip in Redmayne’s showreel comes courtesy of a diving save to push Oxlade-Chamberlain’s free kick away towards the corner flag.

12.37pm BST

75 min: Iwobi again with the chance, shooting from a narrow angle into the remarkable Redmayne. Where the first half was all possession and incisive through-balls, this half has been rapid, direct counterattacks. Still, only the one scrappy goal from a corner to show for it.

12.35pm BST

73 min: of the subs, Iwobi has been the brightest, operating to the right of the forward line and looking like he has a point to prove.

12.32pm BST

70 min: Lacazette, wearing the number 9 shirt is doing his best to get involved, dropping deep linking play, allowing fellow sub Giroud to lead the line.

12.29pm BST

68 min: I think that was all ten outfield subs for Arsenal. All you really need to know is Alexandre Lacazette is now on the field. What will he reveal in the final 20 minutes or so?

12.28pm BST

67 min: Saves at both ends, Redmayne’s routine, Martinez’s a bit tastier to keep out Lokolingoy.

An avalanche of subs on the way…

12.26pm BST

65 min: Decent spell for Sydney, fashioning some decent field position without creating a clear chance.

More subs: Iredale and Green on for Carney and Ryall for Sydney.

12.23pm BST

62 min: Not as many subs as you might expect. Lacazette still going through his paces, no sign he’s making an appearance any time soon.

12.22pm BST

60 min: And that man Redmayne’s at it again. Arsenal have had more joy down the left than the right this half and from that source Walcott enjoys time and space in the box but he can’t beat the diving yellow-clad superhero.

12.21pm BST

58 mins: This is probably Andrew Redmayne’s best ever game. A journeyman A-League benchwarmer turned one-man army. Well done young man.

12.17pm BST

Redmayne dives low to his right and keeps out Welbeck’s firmly struck spot kick. Cliche klaxon – it was a nice height for the keeper – but it was still a good effort from the Sydney stopper.

Justice!

12.16pm BST

And it’s a howler! Seb Ryall dived across to make a miraculous save as Walcott looked set to tap the ball into an empty net. For some reason Shaun Evans points to the spot, presumably thinking the ball hit the sliding defender’s hand, but it smacked into his back!

12.13pm BST

53 min: Redmayne again called into action, this time repelling Bramall’s volley.

12.12pm BST

52 min: Sydney have their second decent opportunity of the match, sub Zuvela shooting sharply from just inside the box, forcing Martinez into a smart save low to his left. Zuvela, by the way, is a big Arsenal fan, he shaves his legs the morning of each game, and his last meal would be lobster mornay. Now you know.

12.10pm BST

50 min: First decent chance of the half falls to Nelson after he’s picked out by Ozil’s panache. His shot is deflected, leading to the latest in a series of dangerous corners. That’s somehow cleared but Arsenal continue to press resulting in Walcott firing over when he should hit the target.

12.08pm BST

48 min: Really just on Lacazette watch now as the second half begins in pedestrian fashion, I’ll keep you updated.

Arsenal sub – Martinez on for Cech.

12.07pm BST

The disjointed second half has begun.

12.06pm BST

The second half is almost upon us, which means the cavlcade of substitutions is about to begin.

Sydney FC get us underway with a couple – youngsters Kuleski and Zuvela on for the more senior Zullo and Brosque.

12.04pm BST

A little bit on Reiss Nelson here – definitely worth the hype, based on one half of a preseason friendly against a sluggish Australian team.

Related: Next Generation 2016: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

12.02pm BST

So it’s @mertesacker‘s goal that gives us the lead at half-time – but which player has impressed you most?#ArsenalinSydney pic.twitter.com/Y8fBKWlAZj

Nelson, Coquelin and Ozil for mine.

11.54am BST

One for State of Origin fans:

@JPHowcroft Second night in a row a NSW team has failed to do the basics right. This is going to get messy

11.50am BST

Arsenal dominated from whistle to whistle but only have one goal to show for it. Plenty of positive signs for Arsene Wenger though, not least the lively Reiss Nelson on the right hand side.

11.47am BST

44 min: Walcott accelerates from his marker and shoots from range, but it’s a scuffed dribbler. That final ball and shot letting Arsenal down on what has been an otherwise excellent showing.

11.45am BST

42 min: The timing of Arsenal’s runners is beautiful to watch. Both the run and the weight of the pass in behind has been spot on time after time, allowing Arsenal to turn Sydney’s defenders and threaten in the final third.

Willock the latest to force a save from Redmayne after a slaloming run through the middle of the park.

11.43am BST

39 min: Sydney have enjoyed a decent couple of minutes since that unexpected chance, retaining possession and forcing Arsenal back into their own half. Graham Arnold is growing visibly frustrated on the touchline though at the volume of errant passes.

11.41am BST

11.39am BST

35 min: Hang on! Out of nowhere Josh Brillante breaks the lines and darts past Mertersacker, forcing Cech into a good save low to his right. The rebound just forces Simon wider than he wanted and he fires the second chance into the side netting.

Arsenal go down the other end and force Redmayne into a couple of sharp stops.

11.36am BST

31 min: Big cheer for Alexandre Lacazette, um, warming up. He could still score a dozen in the second half mind you, Arsenal bossing this. Nelson again looking the business but his Ronaldo-like dazzling feet can’t fashion an opening.

11.33am BST

29 min: Another half-chance for Arsenal with Welbeck seeing his shot blocked after some incisive passing through the centre of the field. The pressure continues though and a Walcott drive forces a fumbly save from Redmayne at his near post. The resulting corner again causes mayhem in the Sky Blue box but Bielik can’t convert.

11.31am BST

27 min: Not a lot for Sydney to shout about so far. Last season was built on forcing turnovers high up the field but they just don’t stand a chance of getting Arsenal in their half. Coming out from the back the front two are isolated, slowing the game to walking pace just to retain possession.

11.27am BST

23 min: This is men against boys stuff despite the scoreline only showing one goal between the sides. Arsenal have looked very sharp for a first hitout, nipping into challenges with purpose and shifting the ball easily. The final pass remains a problem though, Walcott the latest offender.

11.24am BST

21 min: Another corner, another soft chance for Arsenal, Bielik this time. Quickly followed by a break down the left and a ball across the edge of the six yard box that’s just cut out by Jordy Buijs.

11.22am BST

19 min: Coquelin is another Arsenal player to have started brightly. His reading of the game to break up play and instigate counterattacks has stood out. From one such moment Nelson again shows his promise, jinking one way then the other before opting to pass when a shot was on.

11.20am BST

16 min: Almost a second for Arsenal. Reiss Nelson is a handful on the right hand side and he wriggles his way into the box only for Welbeck to take over and see his shot deflected wide. From the ensuing corner Walcott almost doubles the lead as Sydney again fail to defend confidently.

11.17am BST

14 min: Anyway, back to the live action, you haven’t missed much but Sydney are starting to get a foothold but they’re unable to string any passes together. The game already at walking pace.

11.16am BST

I knew I’d heard of this somewhere before – there’s even video evidence!

11.15am BST

A correction of sorts on Arsenal’s history in Australia.

@JPHowcroft Last time Arsenal were in Oz was 1988. I was there. https://t.co/deSVDiEle8 Rocastle,Thomas, Lukic, Smith, Davis, etc @guardian

11.13am BST

9 min: This could be a cricket score. Welbeck and Walcott are stretching Sydney’s defence like that gloopy sticky stuff you threw at the walls in school only for it to get covered in lint and lose its adhesiveness. Bramall and Nelson are the primary beneficiaries but the final pass is just lacking for now.

11.11am BST

7 min: Arsenal knocking the ball around like a training drill, building from the back, Kolašinac taking plenty of responsibility to bring the ball out. Further forward Sydney are chasing shadows, all Arsenal’s attacking players finding space and looking purposeful.

11.08am BST

Eurgh, that is ugly for Sydney FC. An Ozil corner is not dealt with and in the ensuing scramble the giant praying mantis Mertersacker smuggles the ball beyond Redmayne. Very very soft way to open proceedings here.

11.07am BST

3 min: First shot on target is a speculative long range effort from Welbeck. Arsenal settling into their passing nicely, Nelson and Bramall offering dynamism on the flanks.

11.05am BST

1 min: It takes just 40 second for Arsenal to carve open Sydney’s defence. Lovely work down the left from new boy Kolašinac creates a shooting opportunity for Walcott but it’s blocked.

11.04am BST

Arsenal, kicking from left to right for those playing along at home, get us underway.

11.02am BST

Out they come; Sydney in their recently released all-sky blue uniform (currently without a sponsor, which is a tad disappointing), Arsenal in their third strip of all black with fluro pink trim.

The referee tonight is one of Australia’s full-time refs, Shaun Evans.

10.59am BST

Not long to go before kick off now. Way more red and white in the olympic stadium than sky blue. It’s vital the A-League figures out a way of converting these football fans who have affiliations overseas into engaged supporters of local teams.

10.46am BST

TONIGHT’S blockbuster is officially a SELLOUT! The seats are filling up ahead of warm ups here!! #SydneyIsSkyBlue #ArsenalinSydney pic.twitter.com/OtHOrrrPcq

10.44am BST

The last time Arsenal were in Australia was for the World of Soccer Cup in 1977. This was a four-way tournament featuring an Australian XI, Red Star Belgrade, and eventual winners Celtic. It would be the last trophy won by Jock Stein in club football.

Terry Neill’s squad for that trip: Rimmer, Rice, Nelson, Powling, O’Leary, Young, Brady, Hudson, Macdonald, Stapleton, Armstrong, Rix, Mathews.

10.43am BST

You may notice a similarity between Sydney FC’s coach, Graham Arnold, and Bill Murray’s portrayal of the Wes Anderson character Steve Zissou. If you hadn’t, you now can’t unsee it.

10.39am BST

The Sky Blues starting XI is around half-strength from the settled side that dominated the last A-League season.

Arsenal’s centre-halves will be delighted the combative Matt Simon is starting up front – he will test the ‘friendly’ nature of this exhibition.

LINEUP | Here’s how we shape up for our first pre-season clash v @premierleague giants @Arsenal! Thoughts? #SydneyIsSkyBlue #ArsenalinSydney pic.twitter.com/Nwkei46UlU

10.37am BST

The headline news is Lacazette will begin on the pine, which is a bit of a shame.

There’s an early look at Bosnian international Sead Kolašinac who will start on the left of a back three as Wenger persists with the formation that Antonio Conte so successfully trolled the Premier League with last season. Cohen Bramall, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock all make their senior debuts.

The teams are in – let’s do this, lads #ArsenalinSydney pic.twitter.com/qkxL7NtJto

10.36am BST

10.33am BST

We meet again. Just 47 days since Arsenal brought the curtain down on a turbulent campaign by lifting the FA Cup, the Gunners are in action again.

Arsene Wenger’s 21st preseason in charge begins against Sydney FC at a sold out ANZ Stadium. It may seem like the first and most insignificant step in a marathon of a season to residents of N7, but to Australian-based Arsenal fans this is their first opportunity in 40 years to see their heroes in action.

2.06am BST

Jonathan will be here shortly. One man who isn’t in Sydney tonight is Alexis Sánchez, the want-away striker who hasn’t travelled to Australia amid something of a transfer standoff. Have a read of David Hytner’s analysis of that particular situation:

Related: Arsenal, Alexis Sánchez and the question of who will blink first

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/jul/13/sydney-fc-v-arsenal-pre-season-friendly-live

Jul 10

Alexandre Lacazette poised to make Arsenal debut in Sydney

  • Club’s record signing named in Gunners’ squad for trip to Australia
  • Saed Kolašinac and Olivier Giroud also on plane for two friendlies

Arsenal’s most expensive signing is poised to debut at ANZ Stadium this week after Alexandre Lacazette was named in the 25-man squad to play Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers.

Lacazette, who last week signed for a club record £52.7m from Lyon, has boarded a plane bound for Sydney with his new Premier League side and manager Arsène Wenger.

Related: Alexandre Lacazette: will the £52.7m signing propel Arsenal to the next level?

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jul/10/alexandre-lacazette-poised-to-make-arsenal-debut-in-sydney

May 26

ABC defends Sydney FC v Liverpool coverage described by host as ‘train wreck’

Jules Schiller says technical issues partly to blame after Football Federation Australia expresses ‘disappointment’

The ABC has defended its decision to use Sydney FC’s friendly with Liverpool to broadcast “a different offering” to football fans after its coverage of the match was roundly criticised by fans and fellow broadcasters.

The show on ABC2 on Wednesday night was described by some viewers as cringeworthy and embarrassing on social media, and even as “a train wreck” by one of its hosts, Jules Schiller.

Pre-game, half-time & post-game coverage wasn’t to standard expected by @FFA & football fans. We’ve made that point to ABC management. (2/2)

Who thought this was a good idea at FFA!This is is unforgivable and I and every supporter of our game would like an answer ! #LIVSYD

How does ABC get coverage for Sydney Fc vs Liverpool and have hosts who don’t even know anything about football!?!? #livsyd #RedsInSydney

Love my Reds but this Liverpool v Sydney FC pregame show on the ABC is an absolute shocker. #lfc #sfc

Related: Liverpool make light work of Sydney FC on whistle-stop trip to Australia

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/26/abc-defends-sydney-fc-v-liverpool-coverage-described-by-host-as-train-wreck

May 24

Liverpool make light work of Sydney FC on whistle-stop trip to Australia

  • Sydney FC 0-3 Liverpool, ANZ Stadium
  • Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher wheeled out to delight of fans

For Liverpool it was meant to be a celebration of the season just finished; for Sydney FC, a club also with good cause for celebration after their title-winning campaign, it was a chance to prove themselves against a grand old European club – albeit one that was tired, jet-lagged and understrength.

At the end of a predictably pedestrian close-season match in the harbour city, it was the visitors who most fulfilled their pre-match aspirations in a comfortable 3-0 win, much to the delight of the heavily pro-Liverpool crowd, after goals by Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno and Roberto Firmino set up the mother of all smash and grabs.

Related: Jürgen Klopp demands consistent Champions League spot for Liverpool

Related: Can the A-League learn anything from the US experience with the MLS?

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/24/liverpool-make-light-work-of-sydney-fc-on-whistle-stop-trip-to-australia

May 10

David Squires on … Melbourne Victory’s innovative grand final plan to stifle Sydney FC

Our resident cartoonist signs off for the season with a look back at an eventful and at times combustible A-League grand final

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/ng-interactive/2017/may/10/david-squires-on-melbourne-victorys-innovative-grand-final-plan-to-stifle-sydney-fc

May 10

George Calombaris charged with assault after A-League grand final incident

The MasterChef judge was on the field after the match and became embroiled in an argument with fans, which allegedly ended with him shoving one man MasterChef judge George Calombaris has been charged with assault after he allegedly shoved a young man a…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/may/10/george-calombaris-charged-assault-a-league-grand-final

May 08

Police investigating A-League grand final fracas involving George Calombaris

MasterChef judge, who pushed a man, expressing regret for his actions, which he said were in response to abuse aimed at his family

New South Wales Police have said that they are investigating the fracas that saw celebrity chef George Calombaris shove a football fan in the stands at Allianz Stadium following Sunday’s A-League grand final.

Calombaris, the MasterChef judge and avid Melbourne Victory fan, was on the pitch at the conclusion of the match – which Victory lost to Sydney FC in a penalty shootout – when he reacted to something said in the crowd.

Related: George Calombaris’s restaurant empire hands staff $2.6m in unpaid overtime

Masterchef madness as Victory fan Calombaris boils over | : The World Game https://t.co/DvZkElPZOt

Penalties on a Sunday never his thing. https://t.co/0LPGXenShZ

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/08/george-calombaris-apologises-after-a-league-grand-final-fracas

May 07

Sydney FC breathe sigh of relief as season of domination is justly rewarded | Sam Perry

Following their grand final win, there can be no argument about the identity of the A-League’s best team, though there probably should not have been anyway

It is now incontestable. After an A-League grand final played at an unmatched intensity, Sydney FC emerged limping victors. In doing so, they applied the arguable but evidently necessary sheen to crown themselves undisputed champions, and can now safely enter the realms of A-League legend. After a bruising encounter that won’t be soon forgotten, the operative word in Sydney is surely, “phew”.

Related: Sydney FC crowned A-League champions after grand final shootout against Melbourne Victory

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/08/sydney-fc-breathe-sigh-of-relief-as-season-of-domination-is-justly-rewarded

May 07

‘The thing is, I’m never happy’: Graham Arnold continues pursuit of perfection

  • ‘We can go higher, we can get better,’ says Sydney FC coach after grand final
  • Sky Blues beat Melbourne Victory in shootout to claim third A-League title

Graham Arnold is a difficult man to please. The Sydney FC coach might have been forgiven for revelling in the glory of winning the A-League title on Sunday night and perhaps allowing himself to relax and enjoy a rare moment of reflection on what has been a remarkable season.

Instead the 53-year-old, who became just the third coach to win the A-League title twice following his side’s dramatic penalty shootout win over Melbourne Victory, was already thinking of how to improve next season.

Related: Sydney FC crowned A-League champions after grand final shootout against Melbourne Victory

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/08/the-thing-is-im-never-happy-graham-arnold-continues-pursuit-of-perfection

May 07

A-League grand final: Sydney FC beat Melbourne Victory on penalties – as it happened

  • Ninkovic hits winning penalty in decider at Allianz Stadium
  • Berisha’s opener cancelled out by Grant

12.03pm BST

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.

11.54am BST

The managers

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.”

11.45am BST

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.”

11.42am BST

Ninkovic staying?

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.

11.31am BST

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.”

11.27am BST

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.

11.10am BST

Ninkovic – who else! – fires it home! Sydney have won!

11.09am BST

Vukovic guesses correctly to deny Rojas! Ninkovic will have the chance to win it for Sydney.

11.08am BST

O’Neill puts Sydney back in front.

11.07am BST

Valeri misses. Sydney are back in it!

11.06am BST

Carney bangs it home – Sydney not letting it slip away.

11.05am BST

Victory make the most of that miss. They’ve got their noses in front.

11.05am BST

Wilkinson hits it wide – Victory have an opening.

11.04am BST

Troisi cool as you like into the roof of the net.

11.03am BST

Brosque sends the keeper the wrong way with a low strike into the bottom right

11.02am BST

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.

10.59am BST

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.

10.57am BST

120 mins: Sydney win a free-kick and the danger passes. Not long until that final whistle.

10.56am BST

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?

10.53am BST

116 mins: Victory have only made one substitution so far – which is as confusing (tactically speaking) as it is impressive (physically speaking).

10.52am BST

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.

10.49am BST

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.

10.46am BST

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.

10.44am BST

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?

10.42am BST

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.

10.39am BST

A Berisha header is well saved by Vukovic and that’s it for the half.

10.38am BST

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.

10.33am BST

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.

10.31am BST

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.

10.30am BST

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.

10.27am BST

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.

10.25am BST

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.

10.24am BST

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.

10.22am BST

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?

10.15am BST

Time to take a quick breather – and maybe a shower because that was a pretty dirty 45 minutes.

10.13am BST

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.

10.09am BST

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.

10.08am BST

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.

10.05am BST

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.

10.03am BST

10.01am BST

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*

9.59am BST

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.

9.57am BST

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.

9.56am BST

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.

9.53am BST

9.52am BST

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.

9.48am BST

68 mins: Grant pounces on a rebound to fire home the equaliser from close range! Excellent anticipation as several players stood and stared.

9.46am BST

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.

9.45am BST

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.

9.42am BST

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.

9.39am BST

59 mins: Holsoko comes off for Carney as Graham Arnold looks to shake things up.

9.37am BST

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.

9.35am BST

55 mins: Troisi with a cheeky chip from just inside the Sydney half… but it sails straight to Vukovic.

9.34am BST

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.

9.32am BST

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.

9.29am BST

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.

9.26am BST

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.

9.15am BST

“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.

9.10am BST

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.

9.08am BST

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.

9.06am BST

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.

9.05am BST

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.

9.03am BST

42 mins: Georgevski with a cool chest down to his keeper just when Sydney were looking dangerous. Calm as you like.

9.02am BST

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.

9.00am BST

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.

8.58am BST

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.

8.57am BST

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.

8.55am BST

33 mins: A warning for Grant after a clumsy challenge. I think I’ve written that sentence in every Sydney match this season.

8.54am BST

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.

8.52am BST

8.51am BST

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.

8.48am BST

8.47am BST

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.

8.45am BST

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.

8.43am BST

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.

8.41am BST

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.

8.39am BST

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.

8.33am BST

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.

8.31am BST

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.

8.29am BST

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.

8.27am BST

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.

8.25am BST

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.

8.23am BST

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.

8.22am BST

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.

8.18am BST

As the strains of Advance Australia Fair die away, Allianz Stadium erupts in noise.

Not long to go now.

8.15am BST

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.

8.14am BST

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.

8.06am BST

8.06am BST

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.

7.59am BST

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.

7.50am BST

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.

7.47am BST

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.

7.44am BST

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.

7.38am BST

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.

7.35am BST

Team line-ups
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

7.31am BST

7.29am BST

Pitching in
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.

7.26am BST

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.

7.24am BST

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.

5.21am BST

Richard will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s how David Squires sees today’s big game:

Related: David Squires on … the A-League grand final between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/may/07/a-league-grand-final-sydney-fc-v-melbourne-victory-live

May 07

Sydney FC crowned A-League champions after grand final shootout against Melbourne Victory

For much of a combustible, often ugly, evening at Allianz Stadium, it seemed a record-breaking season, recent head-to-head form and home advantage would count for naught. But Sydney FC, the heavy pre-grand final favourites, proved a steel underpins their much-lauded style by overcoming an early punch to the guts delivered by Besart Berisha and going on to win a penalty shootout after 120 minutes of football ended 1-1.

Fittingly, Miloš Ninković, the Johnny Warren medal winner and star of this 2016-17 A-League season, converted the winning penalty, although the Serbian was largely contained on a night not suited to his artistry on the ball. The platform for Ninković to deliver the knockout blow had been set by another star of Sydney’s campaign, goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, who saved Marco Rojas’s spot kick.

Related: ‘The thing is, I’m never happy’: Graham Arnold continues pursuit of perfection

Related: Sydney FC breathe sigh of relief as season of domination is justly rewarded | Sam Perry

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/07/sydney-fc-crowned-a-league-champions-after-grand-final-shootout-against-melbourne-victory

May 04

A-League grand final: all you need to know about the 2016-17 season finale

On Sunday, the two best teams in the country over the course of the season meet in a winner-takes-all clash at Allianz StadiumCoach: Graham Arnold Related: Grand final pitch complaints sounds like Victory excuses, says Mark Rudan Related: David Squire…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/05/a-league-grand-final-all-you-need-to-know-about-the-2016-17-season-finale

May 04

Grand final pitch complaints sound like Victory excuses, says Mark Rudan

  • Former Sydney FC captain makes claim before Sunday’s title decider
  • Allianz Stadium surface has been heavily criticised in buildup to match

Melbourne Victory’s remarks about Allianz Stadium’s poor pitch could be a sign they’re already doling out excuses for an A-League grand-final loss, former Sydney FC captain Mark Rudan suggests.

The substandard surface has stolen most of the headlines ahead of Sunday’s showpiece.

Related: David Squires on … the A-League grand final between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/04/grand-final-pitch-complaints-sounds-like-victory-excuses-says-mark-rudan

May 03

David Squires on … the A-League grand final between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory

Our cartoonist looks ahead to the season finale and the state of the Allianz Stadium pitch, Graham Arnold’s mind games and FFA’s two-tone sausage sizzle

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/ng-interactive/2017/may/04/david-squires-on-the-a-league-grand-final-between-sydney-fc-and-melbourne-victory

May 03

Sydney FC dominate PFA team of the season as Jamie Maclaren is overlooked

  • Grand finalists provide six players in XI voted for by fellow professionals
  • Melbourne Victory have three but no place for Brisbane’s golden boot winner

Sydney’s dominance of this season’s A-League has been recognised with six Sky Blues named by their fellow players in Professional Footballers Australia’s 2016-17 team of the season.

Unsurprisingly, this week’s Johnny Warren medal winner, Miloš Ninković, makes the list in midfield while Danny Vukovic, who kept a record number of clean sheets during the regular season – and added another one in last weekend’s semi-final – takes his place between the sticks.

Related: FFA get dream A-League grand final as VAR technology plays its part | Sam Perry

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/03/sydney-fc-dominate-pfa-team-of-the-season-as-jamie-maclaren-is-overlooked

May 01

FFA get dream A-League grand final as VAR technology plays its part | Sam Perry

Melbourne Victory proved they are the best-placed team to challenge Sydney FC on a weekend when video replays exacerbated symptoms of rage

If finals formats are meant to deliver the best two teams on grand final day, then the weekend’s semi-finals worked to perfection. However it bears thinking that, in essence, four sides duked it out last week for the right to be comfortably beaten by the A-League’s best sides this week. In other words, the semis have served to confirm what we just about already knew: Sydney are the best team in Australia, and Victory are the team most likely to knock them over in a one-off, winner-takes-all showdown.

Related: Besart Berisha heads Victory past Roar and into A-League grand final

Related: Sydney FC advance to A-League grand final after VAR controversy

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/01/ffa-get-a-league-dream-grand-final-as-var-technology-plays-its-part

Apr 29

Sydney FC advance to A-League grand final after VAR controversy

  • Sydney FC beat Perth Glory 3-0 at Allianz Stadium
  • The VAR controversially overturned two disallowed Sydney goals

Sydney FC advanced to the A-League grand final after downing Perth 3-0 in a drama-filled semi at Allianz Stadium. The Sky Blues’ record-breaking season was on the line in front of 21,938 on Saturday night, and they didn’t disappoint against a confident Glory side that couldn’t quite match the class of the premiers.

The video assistant referee (VAR) played a prominent role, overturning two disallowed goals to help Sydney to a 3-0 lead at halftime, a scoreline that proved more than enough to set up a May 7 season-decider against either Melbourne Victory or Brisbane Roar.

Related: David Squires on … the first week of A-League finals

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/29/a-league-sydney-fc-perth-glory-semi-final

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