Ten-man Sydney leaves City in rearview mirror
It was a top of the table clash for the ages and the title race may be slipping away.
Down to 10 men and without key players, Sydney FC powered on to a 2-1 win against Melbourne City.
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An electric crowd at Kogarah saw Sydney extend their lead at the top of the A-League to nine points. Melbourne City had chances to put Sydney to the sword, but once again, their inconsistency has been their downfall.
Opportunities fell the way of the visitors but their profligacy meant they left Sydney empty-handed as Kosta Barbarouses breached the defence to slot home the winner.
Whoever won this match has bragging rights over the title charge. Two wins in six matches for Melbourne City; 10 unbeaten at home for Sydney FC. It'll be a happy new year for those in the Harbour City.
Is the title race still on? Melbourne City fell are almost a world away with nine points between them and Sydney.
In 6 of the last 9 seasons, the team on top at New Years Day, has won the Premiership. Whilst Sydney remain nine points above Melbourne, fears of a runaway title linger.
Melbourne City coach Erick Mombaerts conceded that it will be very hard to stop Sydney's title charge.
"They have a lot of points in advance, they are the best team," said Mombaerts. "Maybe it's not important to focus on Sydney, we have to make our championship.
"Maybe this team is very difficult now to come back."
Steve Corica, There is a long way to go and we just make sure we take it one game at a time."
"We treat our opponents the same whether they are second or eleventh.
Melbourne City need to maintain consistency if they are to keep on Sydney FC's heels.
A GAME OF INCHES
With a golden boot candidate and attacking experience, we've come to expect better from City.
Jamie Maclaren found himself with a clear cut chance in the first half. A header that should have been buried, went begging.
Craig Noone and Adrian Luna only compounded City's grief in front of goal.
City head coach Erick Mombaerts lamented his sides wastefulness in front of goal.
"I know that it's not easy, we need to work on our mentality," said Mombaerts. "Today was a good chance maybe to come back behind Sydney but we missed our chance."
Sydney FC coach Steve Corica knew he kept City's goal threats in check. "We kept Jamie Maclaren quiet," Corica said.
"We frustrated them and we defended well, especially with balls into the box."
This was the definition of 'top of the table clash'.
It was everything the crowd at Kogarah expected. Bumps and bruises, cards and quarrels. The 17,421 strong crowd lit the place up with exuberance, fury and glory.
Sydney FC and Melbourne City players exchanged in a war of words, feeding off the electric atmosphere egging them on.
When Sydney equalised minutes after Rhyan Grant's sending off in the 25th minute, the stadium absolutely erupted. The despair at Adam le Fondre's penalty miss was felt even more so.
But the shocking winner in the end gave this match a legendary status.
SYDNEY FC 2 (Le Fondre 29, Barbarouses 84)
MELBOURNE CITY 1 (Metcalfe 22)
Crowd: 17,421 at Jubilee Stadium
Sky Blues (4-4-2): Redmayne; Grant, McGowan, Wilkinson, King; Baumjohann (Caceres 45), Retre, Brattan, Ninkovic (van der Saag 78); Barbarouses, Le Fondre (Flottmann 88).
City (4-3-3): Glover; Atkinson, Delbridge, Good, Galloway; Griffiths, Brillante, Metcalfe (Luna 56); Cabrera (Wales 82), Noone (Najjarine 71), Maclaren.
Referee: Kurt Ams
Red cards: Grant 25