Pace-setters Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar have played out a dour goalless draw in greasy conditions at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.
The highly-anticipated clash between the Hyundai A-League’s top two sides failed to live up to the hype as both defences dominated in front of just under 13,000 fans.
There were only two shots on target the entire match, underlining the tightness and defensive superiority throughout the 90 minutes.
The result means the Sky Blues remain the only unbeaten side in the competition after five rounds.
Roar’s best moment came midway through the second half when Thomas Broich lifted an excellent ball over the top for Jamie Maclaren to get in behind the defence. Maclaren brought the ball down on his chest just inside the box and was about to get a shot on goal, only for Rhyan Grant to stretch out and get a crucial block in.
The vital tackle from Grant came less than a minute after he was switched from left-back to the right, enabling him to come up with the important play to keep the Sky Blues on level terms.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Defence definitely dominated this fixture, with only one shot at goal (by Sydney FC) in the first half, with Roar’s first attempt not materialising until after the hour mark.
It’s just the second time in their last 12 visits to Sydney FC that Brisbane have failed to find the back of the net during the 90 minutes.
Roar were simply flawless in their defensive work, winning 100 percent of their tackles during the match.
In a cagey, stop-start first 45 minutes, there weren’t many pieces of quality but Sydney’s Milos Ninkovic produced a classy bit of skill to get the home fans excited. Hemmed in near the sideline by Thomas Broich and Matt McKay, the Serbian looked to be going nowhere.
But he showed great close control to drag the ball one way before sliding it through the legs of McKay and breaking free down the sideline. While the move didn’t amount to anything significant, it’s a taste of what Ninkovic is capable of when at the top of his game.
Ninkovic lasted just 54 minutes before he limped off with a leg injury, most likely an ailment suffered late in the first-half when he was on the end of a heavy challenge from Corona. Roar’s Jean Carlos Solorzano, a second half substitute, lasted less than 10 minutes before he was forced off with what appeared like a hamstring injury.
THE FINAL WORD
Sydney again showed their defensive stability to maintain their unbeaten start to the season. But their biggest test yet awaits next Saturday night, with Melbourne Victory – their conquerors from the grand final – heading to Allianz Stadium.
After blasting his defence a fortnight ago, Roar boss John Aloisi will be delighted by a second consecutive clean sheet. But they will want to get back to winning ways in front of their home fans next Sunday against Perth Glory.
Sydney FC: Janjetovic, Ryall (Gersbach 67’), Faty, Jurman, Grant, O’Neill, Tavares, Ninkovic (Hoole 54’), Holosko, Brosque, Smeltz (Simon 74’)
Brisbane Roar: Young, Hingert, Bowles, North, Stefanutto, Corona, Petratos (Lustica 64’), McKay, Borrello, Maclaren (Solorzano 74’) (Clut 83’), Broich
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: McKay 19’, Ryall 24’, Ninkovic 49’, Brosque 65’
Conditions: 21C, Wet
Attendance: 12,857 @ Allianz Stadium