Victory share spoils

Melbourne Victory have shared the points in a thrilling Grand Final rematch with Sydney FC, fighting back from a 2-0 deficit to claim a 3-3 draw at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.

Melbourne Victory have shared the points in a thrilling Grand Final rematch with Sydney FC, fighting back from a 2-0 deficit to claim a 3-3 draw at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.

In a see-sawing encounter, Sydney led 1-0 at half time through Alex Brosque before Terry McFlynn made it 2-0 on 53 minutes. However, inspired by youngster Mate Dugandzic, Melbpurned scored three goals in a stunning seven-minute burst. Leigh Broxham started the comeback with an almost accidental effort on 66 minutes.

Dugandzic then scored a well-crafted individual goal before Billy Celeski marked his comeback from a knee reconstruction with a third to give Melbourne the lead.

However, there was a sting in the tail of this one and Shannon Cole would rifle in a late free kick to allow Sydney to snatch a share of the points.

Sydney FC burst out of the blocks, with an early set piece from new signing Scott Jamieson nodded onto the top netting in the third minute a sign of things to come for the hosts.

With Hayden Foxe combining well with Nick Carle, Sydney FC continued to mount meaningful raids on the Victory goal, only for their efforts to be broken down by a resilient and well-marshalled defence, led by the impervious skipper in Kevin Muscat.

Entering the 35th minute however, Muscat would once again grab the spotlight, but for the wrong reasons.

Trapping the ball deep in defence and with Michael Petkovic urging him on inside the box, the Victory captain took on Mark Bridge one-on-one and attempted to outsmart the advancing midfielder. Bridge intercepted the ball at pace, retained his feet and squared the ball back to his left where Brosque side-footed the ball home under Petkovic-s despairing lunge.

With the score at 1-0, both teams would head to the break with plenty of food for thought unaware to the sensational and explosive second stanza which awaited them.

Upon resumption, Tom Pondeljak found himself with ample time and space inside the left side of the area, and with Liam Reddy reducing the angle, could perhaps have found himself hard done by as his powerful right footed volley found the middle of the keeper-s mitts.

Eight minutes in, McFlynn would pounce on a clearance from Evan Berger, directing a crisp floating header over the top of the scrambling Petkovic.

With possession ebbing and flowing, and with Pondeljak looking incisive, Melbourne would strike in the 65th minute, triggering a stunning period of play for both teams.

Marching down the right channel, Pondeljak turned a quickfire cross into the area which came in contact with Broxham before trickling tamely under Reddy.

Buoyed with their efforts, Melbourne broke quickly from the kick-off, with Pondeljak yet again injecting himself with a second crisp delivery from the right, which was taken in at speed by impressive youngster Dugandzic, who rifled home to Reddy-s left hand side, levelling the scores at 2-2.

Melbourne would complete their captivating comeback six minutes later. Celeski positioned himself front and centre to be on the end of a crisp and controlled movement from Dugandzic, who cut back before the byline, to lay a perfect pass into Celeski;s path.

With the game well and truly turned on its head at 3-2, Sydney began to push numbers forward, with Carle playing chief playmaker, sending down a series of long balls to Brosque, which were snuffed out well by Melbourne-s defence until the defining moment of the game presented at the 85th minute.

With Sydney attempting to turn the ball into attack, Bridge won the hosts a free kick from the top of the area. Shannon Cole bended a superb right-footed effort past Petkovic-s best attempt in what was the final major act of an enthralling evening.

Sydney FC 3 (Alex Brosque 36-, Terry McFlynn 53-, Shannon Cole 85-)
Melbourne Victory 3 (Leigh Broxham 66-, Mate Dugandzic 67-, Billy Celeski 73-)