Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
Sunday 7 May, 5:00pm (AEDT) – Allianz Stadium
Sydney 1 (4 penalties)
Melbourne Victory 1 (2 penalties)
We’ve had some time to let the dust settle, now let’s get into our review of the 2016/17 Grand Final. Sydney FC topped off their incredible season when they won what was a cracking Grand Final. It was a grudge match if I’ve ever seen one, and Melbourne Victory put up one hell of a fight, but after two hours of play the game was forced to penalties, and that’s when Sydney’s fighting qualities came to the fore.
From the first touch the match was ferocious, only two minutes into the game Broxham and Ninkovic had both given away fouls, that was going to be the tale for the rest of the match with an astonishing 58 fouls called throughout the game. It didn’t take long for the first goal to be scored, and unsurprisingly it was the prolific Berisha that buried the goal. It was a great piece of dribbling that got him into firing range too, a top-shelf goal. After that is when the cards started coming out, by the time the half-time whistle was blown Khalfallah, Ninkovic, Troisi, Holosko and Brilliante had all found themselves in the umpires book with yellow cards.
As the second half got under way, so did the roughhousing, Valeri and Baro joined their team mates with yellows and everyone started to wonder who would be the first to be given a red. Amazingly even though there was a total of eleven yellow cards given, no one received a red card, although I think there was a few occasions where one could have been given.
With only twenty minutes left on the clock Grant knocked in an equaliser for Sydney from point blank range, leveling things up at 1-1. By this stage there were a lot of players that were starting to feel the fatigue, but they all pushed through the pain barrier until the ninety minutes were up.
We were left all tied up at the final whistle so the game went into extra time. By now there were a lot of players that were exhausted, Melbourne Victory struggled to do anything in their forward half, and was flagged for offside many times. Sydney was showing more legs and looked the only team likely to score during extra time. There was a moment out of nowhere when Troisi cracked a shot and Melbourne Victory fans all got to their feet thinking it was going in, but it slammed into the woodwork and flew away.
With neither team scoring during extra time it was off to the penalty spots. Sydney went first and it was Brosque that made his way to the spot. He calmly slotted the ball in bottom right corner (Sydney FC 1 – Melbourne Victory 0). Troisi stepped up for Melbourne Victory and he left no one wondering as he slammed the ball into the top of the net beside the keeper (Sydney FC 1 – Melbourne Victory 1). Wilkinson was second to shoot for Sydney but he missed badly to the left giving Melbourne Victory a big opportunity (Sydney FC 1 – Melbourne Victory 1). Broxham had no trouble converting his opportunity to give Melbourne Victory the lead (Sydney FC 1 – Melbourne Victory 2). Carney steadied the ship for the Premiers as he slotted his spot kick to the bottom left hand corner (Sydney FC 2 – Melbourne Victory 2). The Melbourne Victory captain stepped up next in Valeri and he would of beaten the keeper but it hit the crossbar, leveling things up again (Sydney FC 2 – Melbourne Victory 2). O’Neil scored easily to the keepers left to put Sydney back into a dominate position (Sydney FC 3 – Melbourne Victory 2). Most thought the Kiwi star Rojas would have no trouble hitting the back of the net, but his relatively timid shot was fended away (Sydney FC 3 – Melbourne Victory 2). The Sydney captain Ninkovic stepped up to the spot to win the game and the Championship, he slammed the ball into the bottom right corner and all of Allianz Stadium erupted. Sydney FC was the 2016/17 A-League Champions.
Now I’m not one to usually “bag out” managers, but I really wonder what was going through Muscat’s head in the last hour. Firstly I’m not sure if it was he’s decision, or Berisha’s, but how he doesn’t take one of the penalties is lost on me. I know he would be the most analysed by Sydney, but that’s for a reason, he’s their best finisher.
My big gripe is with 120 minutes of play why only one substitution was made for Melbourne Victory. Not only was there only one sub, it was with only 10 minutes left in extra time, so all starting eleven players played 110 minutes minimum. This was painfully obvious when Melbourne Victory could barely lift their legs up in extra time and Sydney was still running all over the pitch. For the record Sydney made two subs during regular time and one in extra time.
Lastly, Rojas should not of taken a penalty, everyone watching the game (excluding Muscat obviously) could see that he was nearly struggling to walk late in the game, him playing on in extra time, and taking a penalty I think could of cost them the match.
In saying that, I’m not their manager, he is, and it’s just my humble opinion. Anyway it’s been a great season, and I’ll follow-up with another write-up soon regarding all teams, and how they fared for the 2016/17 season.
Contrats again to Sydney FC, it was a quite unbelievable season, at this stage it’s hard to see them not being the team to beat again next year.
Melbourne Victory 44%
Regular Time Goals
Melbourne Victory 1
Melbourne Victory 10
Shots On Target
Melbourne Victory 3
Hit The Woodwork
Melbourne Victory 1
Melbourne Victory 432
Melbourne Victory 54%
Melbourne Victory 16
Melbourne Victory 5
Melbourne Victory 30
Melbourne Victory 32
Melbourne Victory 6
Melbourne Victory 0