Melbourne Victory found a way past a disciplined Sydney FC with a late own goal to win an arm-wrestle of a Big Blue on Australia Day at Etihad Stadium.
The visitors’ impressive defensive shape and commitment blunted the Big V’s attacking intent till the final 10 minutes when the home side got some reward.
Substitute Jesse Makarounas’ ball into the box was guided into the Sky Blues' net by the otherwise excellent Matt Jurman.
For a second week in a row, the Sky Blues opted to go for the result rather than entertain to frustrate their opponents. And it almost worked.
Meanwhile, for the home side, Victory rarely got in behind but when they did, Sydney had enough class to snuff out any danger until Jurman’s own goal.
Victory - Jurman (OG) 79’ 1-0
With the pressure building, Victory opened up Sydney down the right with some neat interplay and a low cross from Makarounas was deflected past Janjetovic into the net by Jurman to break Sky Blue hearts.
The game could've opened up had Besart Berisha scored from a one-on-one with Vedran Janjetovic in just the second minute. The striker beat the offside but his shot was deftly kept out by the Sky Blues keeper who was superb throughout.
Matt Simon’s work off the ball was brilliant. Emblematic of the Sky Blues’ commitment. He even made a key block in the second half to deny a goal-bound shot from Nick Ansell inside the box.
Jurman’s own goal.
THE FINAL WORD
Sydney FC showed they have learnt from last season’s grand final loss to Victory. Defensively they showed how to blunt Victory with the right game plan and bags of commitment, but couldn't hold on.
For Victory, their relentless attack finally broke the back of Sydney FC - justice many would say for the team that went out to try and win the game rather than frustrate.
Melbourne Victory (4-3-3): Vukovic (gk), Delpierre, Ansell Makarounas 73’), Broxham, Georgievski, Finkler, Mahazi (Geria 59’), Bozanic, Barbarouses, Ben Khalfallah (Thompson 76’), Berisha
Subs: Thomas (gk), Geria, Thompson, Makarounas, Ingham
Sydney FC (4-2-3-1): Janjetovic (GK); Grant, Jurman, Faty, Ryall; Tavares, Dimitrijevc (Abbas 85’); Naumoff (Hoole 58’) Ninkovic, Holosko; Simon (Smeltz 73’).
Subs: Necevski (GK), O'Neill, Abbas, Smeltz, Hoole.
Scorers: Jurman (OG) 79'
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Victory: Finkler, Delpierre
Conditions: 27 degrees. Overcast and humid
Attendance: 30,493 @ Etihad Stadium