The first and second sides in the league could not be separated on Friday night as Melbourne City walked away with a 1-1 draw against Sydney FC at ANZ Stadium.
John van’t Schip’s men took time to adjust with a new defensive pairing as he handed an A-League debut to Ruon Tongyik and the young defender was put in the thick of the action early.
Three chances in the opening 20 minutes set ominous signs for City as the biggest chance for Sydney fell to them after 18 minutes.
The ball was in the net for the Sky Blues as Rhyan Grant looked to have netted the opener after a sustained period of dominance from the home side.
His volley flew through the City defence and hit his teammate Bobo on the line as the ball entered the open net. Referee Kris Griffiths-Jones was quick to head to his linesman soon after the goal, clearly seeing the deflection off the Brazilian and correctly adjudicating the offence.
The close call sparked City into action as they kept the ball in their defensive line higher up the park.
A cynical foul by Josh Brilliante on Luke Brattan opened the door to a City set piece that went agonisingly close. Dead ball specialist Nicolas Colazo was only a coat of paint away from opening the scoring as his effort left Danny Vukovic rooted to his spot, bouncing off the inside of the post and across the goal-face to safety.
The sign of intent only pushed City further and they were rewarded after 32 minutes.
Brandan’s goal came after a wonderful through ball by Colazo as the Sydney defence stood off the Argentine winger. The former Atletico Temperly man took full advantage of the space, striking from 23 yards into the top corner and giving his side the lead.
Sydney came out in the second half much like they started the first as they returned to their high press up the park.
Both sides began to throw their bodies across the park and tempers began to simmer away with challenges on Brandan and Bruno Fornaroli.
Sydney were reduced to ten men after 73 minutes as Josh Brilliante was handed his second yellow for a late challenge on Neil Kilkenny and were lucky to not go down to nine as a high foot from Bobo on Ivan Franjic saw the striker lucky to stay on the field.
The Brazillian made the most of remaining on the pitch as he won and converted the controversial penalty, beating the outstretched hand of Dean Bouzanis and restoring parity to the contest.
Sydney ran on emotion in the final minutes of the match but City did enough to pick up a point against the league leaders as the home side extended their unbeaten streak in the league to ten matches.
Man of the match - Nicolas Colazo
The Argentine is continuing his rise in the A-League after another impressive performance at ANZ Stadium. Like many of the foreign stars in the league, it takes time to become accustomed to the league and Colazo looks to have put that period behind him with another solid performance.
His set pieces are a sight for sore eyes with his best almost seeing him net in consecutive matches as his effort hit the post and flashed across Vukovic’s goal-line. His midfield work was also exemplary and his class to get out of trouble shows why he was highly regarded in his native Argentina.
SAP Match Stats
Well if you don’t know what’s next, you’re living under a rock. It’s the massive Melbourne Derby up next for City and it’s shaping up to be one of the biggest matches of the season.
City currently sitting in second and Victory in third, another chapter of the Melbourne Derby will be written next week and three points will not only be important for bragging rights but the chance to maintain or even bridge the gap to league leaders Sydney who travel to Perth next week. Click here to secure your tickets for the Derby today!