Melbourne City FC has earned a share of the spoils in the Christmas Derby, as Dario Vidosic's late header saw City draw 1-1 with Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
Melbourne Victory's Ola Toivonen opened the scoring for the visitors when he met Kosta Barbarouses' cross from close range in the 55th minute.
City hit back in second-half stoppage time when Dario Vidosic met Scott Jamieson's cross with a towering header at the back post.
City will look to continue their unbeaten run when they play Western Sydney Wanderers on New Year’s Day at ANZ Stadium, before they return to Melbourne to host Newcastle at AAMI Park on Sunday 6 January.
Head Coach Warren Joyce made one change to the side that defeated Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium last weekend, with Rostyn Griffiths replacing Nathanial Atkinson who moved to the bench.
Ritchie De Laet was named in Joyce’s starting XI despite suffering an injury scare against the Reds.
In flawless conditions for football at AAMI Park, City created the first chance of the match as Dario Vidosic tested Lawrence Thomas from range, only to force the keeper into a fumble before recollecting.
With eight minutes played, it was end-to-end play with both teams having chances up front. First, Leigh Broxham looked to centre the ball, only to be denied by Bart Schenkeveld, before Riley McGree looked to capitalise from range with a looping effort after Lachie Wales forced Thomas into no-man’s land.
Less than a minute later, Ritchie De Laet found Dario Vidosic with a fierce cross, although the attackers downward header was wide.
The game sparked into action on the quarter of an hour mark with a series of chances. The first of those came through Terry Antonis who skied his effort from the edge of the area, before De Laet tried his luck from 20 yards, only to curl his effort wide.
In the 18th minute, Kosta Barbarouses whipped in a dangerous cross, which was brilliantly cleared by a well-timed header from De Laet. Wales looked to counter when he was played through, although his effort was fired straight into the arms of Thomas.
On the half hour mark, in-form goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic produced a magnificent save to deny James Troisi who was through one-on-one.
With five minutes of the first-half to play City pushed to break the deadlock with two successive chances in the 42d minute. Rostyn Griffiths forced Thomas into making an impressive diving save, before De Laet’s header was saved by the keeper from the resulting header.
With one minute of regulation time to play, Wales was again involved, this time Griffiths playing the attacker through to a one-on-one battle with the keeper, only to be denied by a desperate challenge following a heavy touch.
After a cagey opening 10 minutes, Scott Jamieson looked to find Riley McGree inside the six-yard box, although the youngster’s effort was just wide of the goal.
In the 55th minute, Victory broke the deadlock as Barbarouses found Toivonen who made no mistake from close range to make it 1-0.
Nine minutes later the game opened up for Luke Brattan, whose effort from 18 yards was fired over the crossbar.
Head Coach Warren Joyce added Ramy Najjarine and Michael O'Halloran - the latter making his A-League debut - in search of an equaliser.
Perseverance eventually prevailed as late heroics from Dario Vidosic saw City earn a share of the spoils. In the first minute of second-half stoppage time, Vidosic met Scott Jamieson's fierce cross with a towering header at the back post, earning the side from City blue a point at home.
City play Western Sydney Wanderers at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday 1 January, kick-off 7:50pm (AEDT), before hosting Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park on Sunday 6 January, kick-off 5:00pm.