Sydney too good for Victory

Melbourne Victory went down 3-0 to arch-rival Sydney FC after a first-half blitz in Friday night’s top-of-the-table clash at Etihad Stadium.

Melbourne Victory’s biggest home-and-away crowd for just under a year has gone home bitterly disappointed after the reigning Hyundai A-League champions went down to a first-half blitz from arch-rival Sydney FC in Friday night’s top-of-the-table clash at Etihad Stadium.

The crowd of 30,668 – the Victory’s biggest for a non-finals clash since 31,654 saw Sydney win 2-0 at Docklands on October 25 last season – watched on shocked as the visitors cemented top spot on the table with a 3-0 win with all the goals coming in an amazing five-minute burst early in the first half.

The loss leaves Melbourne four points adrift of Sydney at the top of the ladder and just three points from seventh place with the rest of Round 10 still to be played.

Melbourne went into Friday night’s game on a high having won its past three matches and having been unbeaten in its past five overall.

And there was little sign of what was to come during a quiet opening 14 minutes in which Victory striker Ney Fabiano had squandered the only chance of the game when he shot wide as early as the second minute.

But Sydney then scored from its first real attack in the 14th minute thanks to a great cross from the left from Simon Colosimo.

Colosimo’s pinpoint cross found Alex Brosque who rose between Victory defenders Leigh Broxham and Matthew Kemp to head home his first goal of the season.

The Sydney celebrations had barely died down when Mark Bridge exchanged passes with Terry McFlynn and then was given time to turn and shoot between the legs of experienced Melbourne defender Rody Vargas.

Of course Melbourne had famously come from 2-0 down to beat Sydney 3-2 the last time the Sky Blues came to Etihad Stadium in December last year but this time there was to be no comeback for the home side when Sydney incredibly went 3-0 up just four minutes later when Bridge scored his second.

This time the impressive Shannon Cole was the provider with a fine run down the right before unleashing another great cross which Bridge volleyed home after nipping in front of Victory defender Adrian Leijer, the hero of last week’s 2-1 win over Brisbane.

The huge Victory home crowd was stunned, as were the players, but Melbourne attempted to get back into the game with Fabiano appealing in vain for a penalty in the 26th minute.

But Fabiano wasted a good chance when in space in the 39th minute as Victory coach Ernie Merrick had already been forced to make one change with Robbie Kruse limping off in the 35th minute as Tom Pondeljak took his place.

At the start of the second half Merrick made a second change with Grant Brebner replacing Broxham but Melbourne still struggled to break down a Sydney defence that had conceded just seven goals in nine games coming into this match although Archie Thompson went close in the 66th minute when his close-range shot hit the side netting after being set up by Carlos Hernandez.

Brebner also forced a smart save out of Sydney goalkeeper Clint Bolton in the 73rd minute while another second-half substitute Evan Berger shot wide with the goal at his mercy in the 77th minute but in the end Sydney coasted to just its third win in 13 encounters against Melbourne as the Victory suffered its heaviest-ever home defeat and its worst loss anywhere since a 4-1 defeat in Adelaide in October 2007.

Melbourne Victory: 0
Sydney FC: 3 (Brosque 14, Bridge 15, 19)
Crowd: 30,668 at Etihad Stadium