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 30

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

  • Melbourne Victory beat Brisbane Roar 1-0 at AAMI Park
  • Victory will meet Sydney FC in next weekend’s title decider

Melbourne Victory will play Sydney FC for the A-League championship after Besart Berisha sunk his former club Brisbane Roar in their semi-final on Sunday night. On a tense evening at AAMI Park, Berisha broke the deadlock for Kevin Muscat’s men with 20 minutes remaining, heading home Fahid Ben Khalfallah’s cross.

Victory were worthy winners after playing the role of aggressors for most of the game and eventually beat determined goalkeeper Jamie Young. Their progression to the showpiece match – to be played on Sunday 7 May at Allianz Stadium – means the top two finishers will compete in the grand final for the fifth straight year.

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/apr/30/besart-berisha-heads-victory-past-roar-and-into-a-league-grand-final

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

Apr 27

Wanderers can ‘take a lot out of’ latest Asian Champions League hammering

  • Western Sydney Wanderers fall to 6-1 defeat at Urawa Red Diamonds
  • ‘Now we know where we stand,’ says defender Jonathan Aspropotamitis

Twenty goals conceded from five games is pretty ugly viewing from any angle but defender Jonathan Aspropotamitis says it has only made Western Sydney more determined to scrape pride from their final Asian Champions League outing against star-studded Shanghai SIPG.

That is all the Wanderers will be playing for in Campbelltown next month, after Wednesday night’s 6-1 hammering by J-League leaders Urawa Red Diamonds mathematically ruled them out of an unlikely knockout-stage berth.

Related: FFA to close centre of excellence to provide more youth opportunities

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/27/wanderers-can-take-a-lot-out-of-latest-asian-champions-league-hammering

Apr 25

Liverpool’s internationals will all travel to Australia friendly, says Jürgen Klopp

• Club face Sydney FC three days after end of Premier League season
• Gerrard, Carragher, Agger and McManaman will also play

Jürgen Klopp has said he expects Liverpool’s England contingent will be involved in friendly in Australia three days after the end of their Premier League season and less than a month before the national team face Scotland in a World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park.

Liverpool will play Sydney FC in a lucrative match at the ANZ Stadium on 24 May after closing their domestic campaign at home to Middlesbrough and have announced that Steve Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger and Steve McManaman will feature in the game.

Related: Manchester United show ‘concrete interest’ in £85m Antoine Griezmann

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/25/liverpool-australia-jurgen-klopp-sydney-fc-lucrative-friendly

Apr 23

Melbourne City’s desperately timid ending is a microcosm of their slump | Jonathan Howcroft

Six wins in 20 games tells its own story, but even those damning numbers hide constipated play and an uncertainty in tactics and selection

Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar progressed from contrasting elimination finals to move within one game of the A-League championship decider, but it was Melbourne City’s abject capitulation against the former that grew into the story of the weekend. Uncertain in possession, apathetic without the ball, the home side looked overawed by the occasion at AAMI Park. It was a desperately timid end to a campaign that could hardly have begun with greater fanfare.

Related: Perth Glory post rare away win to move within a game of A-League grand final

Related: Brisbane Roar knock Wanderers out of A-League finals on penalties

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/24/melbourne-citys-desperately-timid-ending-is-a-microcosm-of-their-slump

Apr 23

Perth Glory post rare away win to move within a game of A-League grand final

Perth Glory beat Melbourne City 2-0 at AAMI ParkGlory to play Sydney FC next Saturday for place in championship deciderDiego Castro embarrassed Melbourne City in their elimination final and sent Perth Glory into the final four of the A-League for the f…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/23/perth-glory-post-rare-away-win-to-move-within-a-game-of-a-league-grand-final

Apr 21

Brisbane Roar knock Wanderers out of A-League finals on penalties

  • Brisbane defeat Western Sydney 1-1 (6-5) in A-League elimination final
  • Roar will play Melbourne Victory for a spot in the A-League final

Brisbane Roar will battle Melbourne Victory for a spot in the A-League decider after beating Western Sydney on penalties in an epic elimination final on Friday night. The Roar won the penalty shootout 6-5 after scores had been locked at 1-1 after 120 minutes, with back-up goalkeeper Jamie Young making the winning save to deny Jumpei Kusukami’s sudden-death effort at Suncorp Stadium.

It was an easy save for Young, who was able to stay on his feet to pluck the spot-kick from the Japanese import to spark wild celebrations among the 17,530 fans in attendance. Young was only on the field because first-choice stopper Michael Theo was forced off with a knee injury after a heavy collision with Terry Antonis in the first half of extra time.

Related: David Squires on … the football season climax, A-League style

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/21/brisbane-roar-knock-wanderers-out-of-a-league-finals-on-penalties

Apr 19

David Squires on … the football season climax, A-League style

Our resident cartoonist takes a look at the A-League’s insistence on making its season-ending storyline the same as every other Australian football code

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/picture/2017/apr/20/david-squires-on-the-football-season-climax-a-league-style

Apr 19

Tim Cahill relishing underdog status: ‘I’ve been written off my whole life’

  • ‘I like it like this. We know what’s on the line,’ says Melbourne City star
  • City face Perth Glory in Sunday night’s A-League elimination final
  • John Aloisi blames salary cap for the departure of Thomas Broich

Tim Cahill has dared A-League opponents to write off Melbourne City for the title, but the odds are stacked against City, who face Perth on Sunday night in an elimination final for a place in the final four.

Cahill’s side has beaten top-six opposition just twice all season, the last being three months ago – a 1-0 win over Western Sydney. City also have losing form against the Glor, and the latest of two losses this season came last Sunday in a madcap 5-4 loss in Western Australia.

Related: Arturo Vidal rages at referee after Bayern Munich go out to Real Madrid

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/19/tim-cahill-relishing-underdog-status-ive-been-written-off-my-whole-life

Apr 16

A-League premiers plate proves Graham Arnold to be an oblique strategist | JP Howcroft

There is nothing much left to say about Sydney FC’s winningest A-League season, but Graham Arnold’s methods are worthy of unconventional appraisal

Congratulations Sydney FC. The runaway premiers enjoyed the first of what should be two presentation ceremonies this season on Saturday, hoisting the premiers plate aloft after a typically methodical dismantling of Newcastle Jets.

It’s good manners in moments like this to laud the best team in a competition, especially one a record margin ahead of its nearest challenger. But what more is there to say about the winningest team in an A-League season that hasn’t been said already? We’ve talked up the coach, drooled over the marquee No10, and marvelled at the collective ability to seize the moment. Anything else you care to factor into Sydney’s peerless achievement has been raised somewhere between October and now during the 27 unbroken weeks the Sky Blues have topped the ladder.

Related: A-League: 16 goals as Glory beat City and Brisbane pip Wellington

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/apr/17/a-league-premiers-plate-proves-graham-arnold-to-be-an-oblique-strategist

Apr 16

A-League: 16 goals as Glory beat City and Brisbane pip Wellington

Brisbane Roar 4-3 Wellington Phoenix Perth Glory 5-4 Melbourne CityPerth Glory beat Melbourne City 5-4 to close the A-League regular season but it was not enough to earn a home final against the same opponent.Glory and City were destined to meet in an …

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/16/a-league-brisbane-roar-wellington-phoenix-perth-glory-melbourne-city

Apr 16

Newcastle Jets parts ways with Mark Jones after club fails to avoid wooden spoon

Announcement made after 2-0 defeat to Sydney FCAssistant coach Clayton Zane to oversee training in the coming weeks Mark Jones has parted ways with the battling A-League club the Newcastle Jets.The club announced on Sunday that Jones, who was appointed…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/16/newcastle-jets-parts-ways-with-mark-jones-after-club-fails-to-avoid-wooden-spoon

Apr 15

Sydney FC break A-League points record to win Premier’s Plate

  • Sydney FC beat Newcastle 2-0 at Allianz Stadium
  • Adelaide FC and Western Sydney Wanderers drew 2-2 at Coopers Stadium

A-League premiers Sydney FC amassed the greatest points tally in the competition’s history after a final-round 2-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday. But it has come at a cost to the Sky Blues, after goal scorer and standout Milos Ninkovic limped off the Allianz Stadium pitch after a sliding tackle by Ben Kantarovski.

Ninkovic’s 56th-minute goal and skipper Alex Brosque’s 87th-minute effort took Sydney to 66 points from 27 games, one point more than the previous mark of 65 set by Ange Postecoglou’s brilliant 2010-11 Brisbane side over a 30-game season.

Related: David Squires on … the introduction of video assistant referees

Related: World first as video assistant referee called into action in Wellington and Sydney FC stalemate

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/15/a-league-round-27-saturday-match-reports

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