Rovers down Sydney FC 2-1

Hyundai A-League Champions Sydney FC played out an entertaining 2-1 loss to English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers in the final game of the Sydney Festival of Football at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.

Hyundai A-League Champions Sydney FC played out an entertaining 2-1 loss to English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers in the final game of the Sydney Festival of Football at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.

Despite the score line the Sky Blues can take a lot away from their spirited performance.

The result sees AEK Athens take out the inaugural Festival of Football with a total of 17 points. Sydney FC finished fourth with 5 points only inches behind third placed Rangers FC with six points, and second place Blackburn on 7.

The match saw Vitezslav Lavicka make three changes from Wednesday night-s hard fought goalless draw over Rangers FC. Alex Brosque being reunited with striking partner Mark Bridge and Anthony Golec replaced the unavailable Stephan Keller.

Stuart Musialik also returned for Sydney making his first start since last season-s grand final victory over the Melbourne Victory.

The Sky Blues took the field in black arm-bands, remembering the grandfather of defender Sung-Hwan Byun and grandmother of striker Mark Bridge, who both sadly passed away during the week.

In an entertaining first half Blackburn created the first chance of the match in the 1st minute with El Hadji Diouf firing an early warning shot from the left hand side of the box which was well held by goalkeeper Liam Reddy.

Inside the first quarter of an hour the Rovers had two more chances to open the scoring. Morten Gamst Pedersen-s free kick in the 9th minute caused confusion before Sky Blues captain Terry McFlynn was forced to head the ball clear of the goal line.

Shortly afterwards, a miscued cross from Michel Salgado forced Reddy to produce a stunning save, tipping the ball onto the bar as the ball looked destined to find the back of the net.

Blackburn-s early dominance almost payed dividends when some Diouf trickery on the right flank created space for Martin Olsson who-s ball found an unmarked Pedersen in the box, but he could only header over the bar.

The Sky Blues best chance of the half came as a result of a thrilling counter attack in the 16th minute when a Brosque back heel almost found its way past goalkeeper Michael Bunn after a great interplay from Nick Carle and Bridge.

Sydney local Brett Emerton opened the scoring for Blackburn in the 37th minute after gathering a Steven N-Zonzi flick-on from a Gael Givet long ball. The Qantas Socceroos international experience showed as he chested the ball down calmly to turn and finish past goalkeeper Reddy.

In the dying stages of the first half Sydney had a genuine opportunity to pull level. After a scintillating run down the left flank, Byun drove in a dangerous ball towards Brosque who was muscled off the ball by Rovers captain Ryan Nelsen.

During the halftime interval, both coaches refrained from making any changes to their side. However Sydney were forced to make a change in the 62nd minute, Brendan Gan replacing McFlynn after he was forced to the sidelines after picking up a head knock.

The Sky Blues dynamic duo of Carle and Bridge created another glorious opportunity 65th minute. Following a midfield counter attack by Bridge the ball was played into Carle, who fed the ball back to the unmarked Bridge who narrowly steered his shot wide on the Blackburn goal.

Despite their entertaining brand of football Sydney were unfortunate to find themselves down 2-0 in the 67th minute as substitutes Junior Hoilett and Keith Andrews combined well to find Pedersen who finished from close range.

The Sky Blues were to grab the goal they deserved though as another fine attacking move saw Gan play a delicate ball through to Brosque who took a touch and finessed his shot past Dunn into the bottom right hand corner of the goal in the 81st minute.

The goal was to be Brosque-s last involvement in the game as he was replaced by sixteen year-old child prodigy Terry Antonis for final stages of the game.

Following a display of attacking dominance, Sydney were unfortunate not to draw level moments later when a swirling long range effort from Shannon Cole, destined for the top left hand corner, was tipped over by Dunn.

For the remainder of the game the Sky Blues continued to attack Blackburn-s goal, however they failed to find their way through their defence as the score remained 2-1.

Match Details:

Sydney FC: 1 (Brosque 81′)
Blackburn Rovers: 2 (EMERTON 37-, GAMST PEDERSEN 67-)

Sydney FC Line-up: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK (28. Hiro MORIYASU 65-), 10. Nicky CARLE (23. Rhyan GRANT 76-), 12. Shannon COLE, 13. Antony GOLEC, 14. Alex BROSQUE (24. Terry ANTONIS 82-), 15. Terry MCFLYNN (7. Brendan GAN 62-), 19. Mark BRIDGE (11. Kofi DANNING 80-), 21. Scott JAMIESON, 22. Sung-Hwan BYUN

Substitutes Not Used: 17. Matt Jurman, 18. David GULLO, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 30. Dylan MITCHELL (gk).

Yellow Cards: Nil.
Red Cards: Nil.
Goals: 14. Alex BROSQUE 81-.

Blackburn Rovers Line-up: 1. Mark BUNN, 2. Michael SALGADO (17. Pascal CHIMBONDA 71-), 3. Martin OLSSON, 4. Ryan NELSEN (16. Grant HANLEY 57-), 5. Gael GIVET, 6. Vince GRELLA (15. Phil JONES 45-), 7. Brett EMERTON (21. Junior HOILETT 55-), 8. David DUNN (12. Keith ANDREWS 66-), 9. Morten GAMST PEDERSEN, 10. El-Hadji DIOUF, 11. Steven N-ZONI.

Substitutes Not Used: 13. Paul ROBINSON (gk), 14. Lars JACOBSEN, 18. Amine LINGANZI, 19. Josh MORRIS, 20. Maceo RIGTERS.

Yellow Cards: Nil.
Red Cards: Nil.
Goals: 7. Brett EMERTON 37-, 9. Morten GAMST PEDERSEN 67-.

Referee: Ben Williams at the Sydney Football Stadium.