Melbourne City FC has suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Sydney FC in the 2020 Hyundai A-League Grand Final.
It was an entertaining 90 minutes of football but despite this, neither team could find the back of the net, sending the contest into extra time.
Socceroo Rhyan Grant was the hero for Sydney, finally finding a way past Tom Glover who had been the hero for City in the second half, pulling off a couple of world class saves.
Erick Mombaerts didn’t make any changes to his starting XI following Wednesday night’s semi-final win against Western United.
Despite having just one player who had previously played in a grand final, City settled the quicker of the two teams.
The ball was deep in the penalty area within 30 seconds of the first whistle, but Craig Noone’s cross aimed for Jamie Maclaren was cleared for a corner by the Sydney defence.
Harrison Delbridge was one of City’s best players in the first half and he played a nice ball in the eighth minute for Maclaren, who got in behind the defence but couldn’t find the angle to round Andrew Redmayne.
City continued its great start in the 17th minute, with a Noone effort heading towards goal but the Englishman couldn’t quite find enough power and it was cleared off the goal line.
Just a minute later, a deflected shot fell to Delbridge at the edge of the area and he unleashed a powerful strike which flew into the back of the net, sparking a big celebration for City players which was quickly halted.
After a VAR check, Lachie Wales was found to be obstructing the view of Redmayne and the goal was ruled out for offside.
City had already recorded seven shots (two on target) before Sydney had its first; a low driven shot from Kosta Barbarouses in the 29th minute which Tom Glover dealt with easily enough.
Sydney started to work its way more and more into the game from this point but half-time was still reached with scores locked away at nil-all.
Wales was dangerous down the left wing early in the second half, playing a couple of dangerous balls into the box but City just couldn’t find a finishing touch.
Sydney had by far the best chance of the 90 minutes in the 62nd, but Glover pulled off an outstanding save from close range.
Milos Ninkovic steamed into the box and shot from close range but the City shot-stopper reacted quickly and got a strong left hand to the strike to keep scores level.
Less than a minute later Paulo Retre found some space and curled a shot towards goal, but Glover watched it sail just wide.
Both teams went back and forth with the momentum constantly changing in what would’ve been a great spectacle for a neutral fan.
A Florin Berenguer cutback in the 75th minute perfectly found Noone in the box, but the winger couldn’t get enough power onto his shot to trouble Redmayne.
A couple of minute later substitute Scott Galloway’s long-range effort had Redmayne scrambling but the Sydney keeper did enough to keep it out.
An 89th minute cross from Sydney striker Adam Le Fondre deflected towards goal off of Nathaniel Atkinson but Glover again reacted quickly to pull off a great save and keep scores level.
Five minutes of injury time were added but neither side could find the back of the net, forcing the match into extra time.
The winner came in the 100th minute when Luke Brattan played an inch perfect lofted ball towards Glover’s right post and Rhyan Grant timed his run well to meet the ball with his chest and direct it into the back of the net.
With City committing numbers forward in the second half of extra time, Sydney had a few chances to double their lead but a pair of Glover saves along with a Richard Windbichler goal line clearance kept City in it.
City’s best chance of equalising came in the 111th minute when Atkinson spotted Redmayne slightly off his line and shot from range, but the Sydney keeper was able to tip it over the bar.
Curtis Good was thrown forward in the final minutes and got his head to a couple of crosses but unfortunately the equaliser never came.