Sydney holds Melbourne

Sydney has weathered a dominant performance from Melbourne to secure a share of the points in a 0-0 draw at Etihad Stadium, keeping the gap between the two at the top of the Hyundai A-League table to three points.

Sydney has weathered a dominant performance from Melbourne to secure a share of the points in a 0-0 draw at Etihad Stadium, keeping the gap between the two at the top of the Hyundai A-League table to three points.

Melbourne had most of the possession and most of the chances - 21 to six - but a combination of wasteful shooting and a tight rear-guard action from the Sky Blues enabled the visitors to take a share of the points. Kevin Muscat's ambitions of marking his 500th club match with a win were thwarted and he'll have to be content with the fact his team are still on top of the table.

They head into Christmas on 35 points with eight games to go and in pole position to defend the premiership they won last year. But Sydney showed with this dogged performance that it will not just let Melbourne sail away with top spot.

Melbourne made by far the brighter start to the match and had its best chance for the first half inside the first two minutes. Robbie Kruse stripped Alex Brosque of the ball and delivered it to Archie Thompson who lashed a shot in the bar. The ball fell for Leigh Broxham, who headed it straight over the top.

It would be a preview of the next 90 minutes for Melbourne fans, with the home side dominating play but unable to get their chances on target. Thompson would hit the side netting twice and head wide, while Carlos Hernandez failed to trouble Clint Bolton from two excellent positions.

All-up, Melbourne had nine shots on goal in the first half, but only one, an 11th-minute header from Thompson which Bolton juggled then saved, was on target. Sydney, conversely, was doing much better with its chances, with two shots on target.

But Melbourne keeper Mitch Langerak was in fine form and denied Alex Brosque on 21 minutes with a reflex block which was quickly cleared by Muscat. Langerak implored his defence to tighten-up, and they did so, allowing Sydney very few forays into the penalty box in the lead-up to half time.

Melbourne's frustrating confluence of possession dominance and profligacy continued in the second half with seven more shots without reward in the first 20 minutes, the best of which Matthew Kemp hit into the outstretched hands of Bolton.

Thompson squandered a couple more efforts, Hernandez's multiple missles only served to threaten those in the back rows of the stands, while Tom Pondeljak beat three defenders but could only find the side netting.

Sydney was catching the wasteful disease, with Corica unable to connect with a cross which put him one on one with Langerak.

Melbourne maintained the pressure, with Kruse's impressive effort on 73 minutes saw Bolton palm desperately clear. Five minutes later, Brosque went within inches of putting his side in front, but headed wide.

In fact, Sydney's best period was in the final 10 minutes where Corica, Brosque and Karol Kisel all had chances but failed to test out Langerak, who has now had four clean sheets from five matches since returning to the starting line-up.

It is Melbourne's first 0-0 draw since the first match of the 2008/09 campaign, when it played Sydney at the SFS.

Melbourne Victory 0 Sydney FC 0 Crowd: 27, 344 at Etihad Stadium