Sydney win, Aloisi redeemed, but this is just the beginning
So Sydney FC are minor premiers. Congratulations, they battled their way to the top with a lot more perspiration than inspiration but yesterday afternoon they proved too tenacious for Melbourne Victory.
The game was interesting for a number of points. This is just the first leg of a possible three-match finals run-in between the two sides. Given the form of the pair, there is a good chance they might just meet again in the grand final.
First up is the semi-final in Melbourne next Thursday. Victory will be desperate to inflict some serious hurt on Sydney, particularly after Terry McFlynn reportedly broke Robbie Kruse’s leg. It was physical at SFS yesterday, but that clumsy tackle left Melbourne seething.
Kevin Muscat returns next week for the first leg. Revenge isn’t a word the media-conscious Victory will ever use openly, but I might have to put the TV in a specially constructed cage and watch from behind the sofa.
In their three games this season, Sydney have won two and draw one, scoring five goals and have yet to concede. The manner of yesterday’s win should give them the upper hand, and however Melbourne deny it, it is vital they land a punch on their opponent as soon as possible. Self-belief means so much in sport, and a season of domination would mean even more in the grand final.
Yesterday also saw the possible resurrection of John Aloisi. A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about how Sydney fans have demonised the former Socceroo for his perceived failings versus the cost of his contract – but that surging run and gut-busting goal yesterday, which flew into the net in front of the Cove might just have done a good job of erasing a large portion of that enmity. The fans will still question his move to the club – but they’ll always remember the cracker that put their biggest rivals to the sword when it mattered most.
That’s four goals in four games from Aloisi, at a crucial time in the season. Melbourne will be stronger next time they meet and mentally up for it – but do they have what it takes to break down Viteslav Lavicka’s stubborn side?
Elsewhere, there are other intriguing finals battles: Perth, finishing so strongly, face the daunting trip to Wellington, unbeaten at Westpac all season. The winner of that game will likely face Gold Coast United, should they overcome the injured and faltering Newcastle Jets.
Gold Coast haven’t even scored against Wellington yet, never mind beaten them. Could the Kiwi invaders go all the way?
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