A win was a must at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium on Friday night and the odds were stacked against Melbourne City. Although we were entering the match after a 4-0 drubbing of Newcastle Jets at home the previous week, fans still had very little hope. We witnessed two very poor consecutive away losses against CCM and WSW, so the supporters couldn’t have been blamed for the lack of optimism.
A major threat coming into the game for Sydney FC was Austrian striker Marc Janko who recently broke the record for most consecutive matches with a goal in the A-League. But who would have thought that after scoring in seven successive games, that City would not allow the marquee striker to stretch it to eight?
The home side however looked the far more dangerous side. Janko had the first major chance, with the ball played in behind the defence only for his shot to cannon off the post and out of the danger area. Our first opportunity arrived after a delightful ball was played by Aaron Mooy who, despite slipping, had met Germano’s head only for the Argentine’s looping header to fly over and wide of the goal.
Sydney dominated the remainder of the half by getting themselves into great positions. However, although they easily broke through the City defence, they failed to test Velaphi. In the latter stage of the half, Koren had a chance as he stabbed at the ball with the outside of his boot before Janjetovic tipped it onto the crossbar and over for a corner.
The boys in red and white looked lively after the break as an early chance fell to Mate Dugandzic before he quite disappointingly skied the ball over the goal. But the hosts further caused trouble in our penalty area.
Bernie Ibini almost put his side in the lead as Velaphi failed to come out of his area to clear the ball which Ibini was able to hit on target. Fortunately our goalkeeper somehow kept it out, continuing his fine form. The danger was prolonged as the Sky Blues were able to get in behind the last line but Patrick Kisnorbo and Kew Jaliens put in brilliant shifts to keep them scoreless.
In the 81st minute, a quick throw-in was taken which allowed Koren to flick on to Mooy prior to the star man providing a majestic pass to James Brown who calmly went around Janjetovic before slotting into an open net. It was a major shock for Melbourne City fans – obviously a pleasant one. We had taken the lead late on but the fans knew that, knowing our history of late disappointments, it would be a stressful finish to the match.
Fortunately, though, Melbourne City were able to hang on and collect all three points in Sydney. Against all the odds, City had pulled off a valiant win in a type of match that we’ve failed to succeed in for years. The hope of finals remain. Brisbane will play Wellington and Western Sydney both in the space of four days and City will hope that they only gain minimal points before the massive showdown at AAMI Park next Saturday. Another must-win that will define our potential finals appearance.
Come on City!