Victory Down Sydney FC 2-1 In Melbourne

Sydney FC lost 2-1 to Melbourne Victory in the first leg of the Hyundai A-League Major Semi Final at Etihad Stadium tonight but will return home with a crucial away goal in their bag.

Sydney FC lost 2-1 to Melbourne Victory in the first leg of the Hyundai A-League Major Semi Final at Etihad Stadium tonight but will return home with a crucial away goal in their bag.

Goals to Nik Mrjda and Carlos Hernandez gave Melbourne a 2-0 lead but it was the in-form marquee forward, John Aloisi, who slotted Sydney a vital away goal in the 43rd minute.

The second leg will be held at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday 7 March in front of a parochial home crowd. The 2-1 result leaves Sydney only needing a 1-0 result at home to progress through to the grand final on the away goal rule.

“We are disappointed in this moment but there are plenty of positives to take from this match.” Coach Vitezslav Lavicka said.

“There has only been one leg, there is still one more to go now back in Sydney. We got an important goal through John Aloisi. It will be a big game in Sydney.

“We hope for same crowd, same atmosphere as last time we played at home. We will have recovery for few days but we will be ready for the next game.”

The first half began with little flair as both teams tried to maintain possession, seemingly not wanting to try anything risky and it was not until the 9th minute that either team created a real chance to score when Sydney-s Sung-Hwan Byun hammered a shot straight to the keeper.

It was against the run of play when Melbourne opened the scoring in the 16th minute when a long counter attack ball from Kevin Muscat found Nick Mrdja deep in Sydney-s defence, and despite being marked by Simon Colosimo and Stephan Keller, Mrdja was able to find space and push the ball past Clint Bolton.

Boosted by the lead, Melbourne appeared to have a strangle hold on Sydney-s midfield and the Sky Blues were not able to trouble the Victory-s defense with any intent until the 26th minute when a through ball found Karol Kisel on the edge of the box. Kisel was able to shake his marker, shoot, only to again kick straight to the keeper.

From that moment Sydney began to find their rhythm and started to dominate possession. Aloisi missed a great opportunity to level in the 31st minute after a lovely one-two between himself and Terry McFlynn found Aloisi with room to shoot only to see his attempt wide of the post.

But despite momentum swinging Sydney-s way it was Melbourne who scored next and again it was through a counter attack play after Nick Ward played Carlos Hernandez down the left side. The Costa Rican international found himself alone against Bolton and calmly and accurately put the ball in the back of the net.

Sydney struck back almost immediately with a header from Alex Brosque that found Aloisi on the edge of the box. Aloisi turned the ball into the square with his first touch and shot with his second and was fortunate the ball hit Kevin Muscat, deflecting over Mitchell Langerak and through on goal.

The Sky Blues pressured Melbourne-s defence for the rest of the half but were unable to convert their opportunities into more goals.

The second half began with a lucky let off for Sydney when, in the 48th minute, an audacious shot from by Hernandez swerved and dropped to hit the top of the bar, though Bolton was there as cover.The game settled down after Hernandez-s attempt as neither team wanted to gift their opposition any advantage but Melbourne did exactly that after Mrdja was shown a straight red card after he elbowed Shannon Cole in Sydney-s defensive box.

The red card signaled a lift in tempo and intensity to the game and Brendan Gan was shown a yellow card for a tackle on Kevin Muscat.

Aloisi showed his experience throughout the second half and none more so when he found the ball on the edge of the goal square and despite being heavily marked Aloisi was still able to flick the ball on to Chris Payne who was unable to make contact with the ball.

“We are confident,” Aloisi said. “We are pretty good at home and we reckon we can win.”

“The away goal helps us a little bit and we just have to win at home. It-s not a bad result.”

Match Detail

Melbourne Victory FC: 2 (MRDJA 16-, HERNANDEZ 40-)
Sydney FC: 1 (ALOISI 43-)

Melbourne Victory Line-up: 1. Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 2. Kevin MUSCAT, 5. Surat SUKHA (19. Evan BERGER 59-), 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8. Grant BREBNER, 12. Rodrigo VARGAS (c), 15. Tom PONDELJAK (17. Matthew FOSCHINI 90+1-), 16. Carlos HERNANDEZ, 22. Nick WARD (11. Marvin ANGULO 84-), 23. Adrian LEIJER, 29. Nik MRDJA.

Substitutes Not Used: 20. Glen MOSS (gk), 25. Aziz BEHICH.

Yellow Cards: Adrian LEIJER 46-, Kevin MUSCAT 85-.
Red Cards: Nick Mrdja 73-
Goals: Nick MRDJA 16-, Carlos HERNANDEZ 40-.

Sydney FC Line-up: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 3. Stephan KELLER, 4. Simon COLOSIMO, 6. Karol KISEL, 7. Brendan GAN (16. Christopher PAYNE 79-), 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 9. John ALOISI (c), 12. Shannon COLE, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15. Terry MCFLYNN (29. Iain RAMSAY 90-), 22. Sung-Hwan BYUN.

Substitutes Not Used: 13. Antony GOLEC, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 26. Hayden FOXE.

Yellow Cards: Simon COLOSIMO 26-, Alex BROSQUE 37-, Stuart MUSIALIK 61-, Brendan GAN 76-.
Red Cards: Nil.
Goals: John ALOISI 43-.

Referee: Peter GREEN
Attendance: 18,453 at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne