Alessandro Del Piero of Sydney and Adrian Leijer of the Victory contest the ball during the round 25 match at AAMI Park on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images Sydney FC fans are out in numbers. Photo: Getty Images
Shanghai night field

sport icons


It’s time for the A-League finals. Glamour clubs Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC clash in an elimination final. It could well be Alessandro Del Piero’s final game in Sky Blue. Sydney fans, for one, will be hoping he’s saved his best for last.

Dominic Bossi has nominated his five players to watch for this sudden-death match: 1. James Troisi (Victory), 2. Alessandro Del Piero (Sydney FC), 3. Mark Milligan (Victory), 4. Richard Garcia (Sydney FC) and 5. Gui Finkler (Victory). Read more key details about the match in his Lowdown column.null

And a little bit of community service ….

We’ve got extra services for the Victory & Sydney fans heading home from Etihad tonight. Full details here: http://t爱上海同城论坛/7RlUB1aOPr— Metro Trains (@metrotrains) April 18, 2014

Must admit it’s a bit of a strange feeling in Melbourne for a Good Friday. Sports fans in the south are so accustomed to a lack of live sport in their fair city … so the existence of a cut-throat A-League final between two of the league’s glamour clubs makes for a new Easter experience.

Tonight’s teamsheets #ALeagueFinalspic.twitter爱上海同城论坛m/FJ783aejsU— Melbourne Victory (@gomvfc) April 18, 2014

Last time: Melbourne Victory‘s push for a top-two spot and the double chance is likely to go to the final kick of the A-League season. Likewise Sydney’s battle to secure a spot in the finals after the teams finished with a goal apiece in an entertaining contest in front of 20,447 fans at AAMI Park on Saturday night. The 1-1 draw means that Victory slips to fourth spot with 37 points, two less than Central Coast Mariners and one behind Western Sydney Wanderers.

Read more of Michael Lynch’s report.

So, Archie Thompson is in Victory’s starting 11. Doesn’t he have a remarkable background in big A-League matches? Melbourne’s substitutes are Connor Pain, Rashi Mahazi, James Jeggo, Scott Galloway and reserve ‘keeper Lawrence Thomas.

On the bench for Sydney FC are Ranko Despotovic, Matthew Thompson, Alex Urosevski, Aaron Calver and reserve goalkeeper Ivan Necevski.

The players tunnel here at @EtihadStadiumAU for @GoMVFC v @SydneyFC#ALeagueFinalspic.twitter爱上海同城论坛m/D1yG09WJRX— Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) April 18, 2014

Of course the Sky Blues boast an unbeaten record against Melbourne this A-League season. What will that mean tonight in a sudden-death final? Diddly squat? Certainly the pressure is riding on Sydney to get the job done.

Kick-off is inching ever closer and the crowd is slowing filling out. Surely we won’t go past 20,000 though. Those fans that are here, however, are full of voice. There’s a pocket of Sydney fans at the northern end with large Sky Blues flags.

The big round-ball issues are discussed ….

Does anyone want to venture what the crowd figure will be tonight? Just 20 minutes or so from kick-off, the stands at Etihad Stadium are sparsely populated. At this point a crowd of 25,000 would be an excellent return.

We’re away …. Victory with the opening kick-off.

2 mins: An early moment for the highlight reel and the replays. Victory in their forward half creates a golden chance through a sublime pass from Thompson but his teammate is off-side … only marginally.

6 mins: The Melbourne outfit is dominating the early minutes. One forward foray after another. Archie Thompson is prominent and his ever-present threat to defenders is clear.

Orright. Cheering for Del Piero. Be nice to see him achieve something in the game before he retires. #MVCvSYD#toiletseat— Richard Hinds (@rdhinds) April 18, 2014

11 mins: Melbourne Victory 0 Sydney FC 0

A somewhat perdictable opening overall. Both squads testing each other out. Victory has looked more threatening and slightly more creative. Archie on the park makes a huge difference.

GOAL!!!! 18 mins: Victory get the all-important opener. Archie Thompson does the finishing by scoring the goal but it was Contreras who set up the chance with a terrific steal on the halfway line. The winger took the ball forward and it was a patient Archie who awaited his chance. After a series of passes the ball was dished to Thompson near the top of the box and he expertly curled the ball into the right hand side of the net. Naturally, the crowd erupted.

A-League finals: Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC