An undermanned Melbourne City has held Sydney FC to an exciting 1-1 draw in their Hyundai A-League season-opener at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
A first A-League goal to youngster Wade Dekker gave the visitors a lead just after the quarter-hour mark and only the crossbar denied them a second soon after.
But the Sky Blues equalised right at the end of the first half, with new marquee man Filip Holosko tapping in after a great cross by Skipper Alex Brosque.
The home side had the better chances after the break but a couple of sublime saves from City ‘keeper Thomas Sorensen ensured the points would be shared.
0-1 Dekker (16’) – Jacques Faty was caught in possession just outside his own box, with Bruno Fornaroli playing in Dekker with the youngster sliding it past Vedran Janjetovic at his near post.
1-1 Holosko (45+2’) – A City turnover on halfway allowed Sydney to break forward with Brandon O’Neill piercing through ball releasing Alex Brosque into the box. The Sky Blues skipper could have shot but instead squared for Holosko to tap into an open goal.
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City were good value for their lead and looked to be taking that goal advantage to the break before a moments concentration lapse allowed the home side back in. The Sky Blues capitalised on a sloppy turnover to drew themselves level right on the stroke of half-time. It gave Sydney FC a much-needed boost and they produced a much better performance in the second half.
City’s new goal-keeper Thomas Sorensen had a few shaky moments in his Hyundai A-League debut showed just why the club were keen to sign him with a spectacular save to deny Rhyan Grant 13 minutes from time. Grant cut in from the left and drove at the City defence before unleashing a curling shot from the edge of the box which looked destined for the far corner of the net. But the ex-Danish international had other ideas, diving full-stretch to his left to paw it away with his right hand. He produced another world-class save to deny George Blackwood in the final minute to earn his side a point.
It wasn’t a happy night for Sky Blues vice-captain Faty. The Frenchman made a poor error for City’s opening goal and another missed tackle 13 minutes later almost allowed Hernan Espindola to double the visitor’s lead.
Back to the drawing board
Arnold, somewhat surprisingly, employed a 4-4-2 formation to start the match and while they had good spells of possession, were moving the ball too slowly to really penetrate City’s well-structured defence. Having the versatile Grant playing at left-back also really didn’t work for the Sky Blues. Grant always tried to get the ball back onto his favoured right-foot, making the home side’s attack a little unbalanced.
The Final Word
Big things are expected of the Sky Blues after their superb campaign last season but it’s sure to take them a few weeks to hit their straps. But there were plenty of positive signs from the likes of Holosko, Ninkovic and Dimitrijevic to suggest another positive season for Sydney. They travel to Newcastle to face the Jets next Saturday.
With so many players missing through injury you can’t help but admire City’s performance on the road. Their crop of youngsters were exceptional which can only augur well for the rest of the season. A blockbuster derby against fierce rivals Victory awaits next weekend.