Graham Arnold says Sydney FC is in the box seat to progress in the AFC Champions League following their 1-1 first leg draw with Shandong Luneng in China.
Attacker David Carney scored a crucial away goal for the Sky Blues in the first half on Wednesday night before Diego Tardelli levelled things up just after the break in a see-sawing contest.
The Hyundai A-League club managed to hold on for the hard-earned draw in the closing stages to take an excellent result back to Allianz Stadium for next week’s second leg.
And Arnold is confident his side has the edge as they look to advance to the last eight of the competition for the very first time.
“I think it’s 60-40 our way with the away goal,” Arnold told reporters afterwards.
“But also the travel that Shandong will have to do as well. It’s very difficult, it’s long and it’s tiring. We had to do it and now it’s Shandong turn….and they will [face] a big crowd of Sydney FC fans.
“We’re very happy with the result,” Arnold added. “I thought we played exceptionally well tonight. We’re disappointed to concede a goal off a set piece.
‘But overall it was a very good game. Two teams that went for the win and with my very young team, I was very happy.”
Goal-scorer Carney echoed his coach’s sentiments, telling Fox Sports: “Overall it was a good performance. We started the game off slow but then came into it.
“I thought first half we controlled most of the ball and then second half we knew they were going to come at us and we rode our luck a bit.
“But 1-1 we would have taken that before the game and we should be proud with that. Hopefully we get a good crowd now in Sydney and go on and win it.”
Sydney keeper Vedran Janjetovic played a crucial part in the result, pulling off a number of crucial saves including a penalty – which he had given away – early in the first half.
The Sky Blues were pushed back for much of the 90 minutes by the home side but defended stoutly and pulled off their game-plan to near perfection.
“We kept the ball well, the final third we could have taken a few better options than we did,” Carney said.
“[But] we were away from home and they are going to come at us. We got the goal which is good. We sat back at times but overall defensively I thought we were quite solid.
“We can go at home and go for it now and I’m sure that they’ll come at us which is good and hopefully we can get them in behind if they throw a few bodies forward.
“It’s definitely not over. It’s only half time so we still have a lot to do.”