Sydney wins epic Grand Final

Sydney FC has claimed an epic Hyundai A-League Grand Final 4-2 on penalties over the Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

Sydney FC has claimed an epic Hyundai A-League Grand Final 4-2 on penalties over the Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

Departing keeper Clint Bolton played a massive role in the shootout which saw Melbourne miss twice through Kevin Muscat and Marvin Angulo, while Victory keeper Mitch Langerak could only save once from the boot of Shannon Cole.

The match had ended 1-1 after extra time, with Mark Bridge giving Sydney the lead on 62 minutes before Adrian Leijer equalised 19 minutes later.

With the teams being unable to be separated after 90 or 120 minutes, the title was decided in the most heart-breaking manner possible.

After Simon Colosimo converted the first penalty, it was Muscat who would amazingly miss his spot kick, only the second time he has done that in the Hyundai A-League, crashing the ball into the left-hand post.

Langerak acrobatically saved from Cole and Grant Brebner and Hayden Foxe both converted before Bolton produces a pearler of a save from Angulo.

Sydney closed out the shootout and took the title with accurate efforts from Karol Kisel and Sung-Hwan Byun.

For Bolton, who has been at Sydney for the past five years, it was the perfect way to farewell the Sky Blues, while it was pure heartbreak for Melbourne.

While Sydney had a few half chances inside the first 10 minutes, the first moment of note in the match came in the form of an injury after a collision between Simon Colosimo and Archie Thompson which left the Victory striker clutching his knee.

It was to prove a significant moment of the match as Thompson was unable to recover and was replaced by Angulo with a suspected injury to his ACL.

It was a physical and niggly match and it was little surprise when Strebre Delovski pulled out yellow cards against Sebastian Ryall and Bridge within five minutes.

The drought of decent attacking chances was broken in the 41st minute when Chris Payne tore clear down the right and produced a shot which forced Langerak to parry away.

Colosimo also tested out the Victory keeper with a long shot.

In between those attempts, Surat Sukha went close to putting Melbourne in front, hitting the ball over the bar after a good cross from Nick Ward.

Bridge had an excellent chance to score early in the second half, but his volley was pushed away by Langerak who was by far the busier of the two keepers.

Bolton’s first save came when Nick Ward fired the ball straight at him on 52 minutes.

Meanwhile, Colosimo and Muscat found themselves in the referee’s book.

The major flashpoint of the game came just after the hour when Melbourne thought it had scored when Rody Vargas put the ball into the net, only to be ruled offside.

Bolton played the free kick quickly and Sydney swept the ball down field before Byun put the ball out to Alex Brosque.

Brosque’s cross was defected by Sukha but it looped up and over a stranded Langerak to Bridge, who was waiting at the far post.

He headed the ball in from point-blank range and stunned the home crowd.

After Muscat put an excellent chance just wide, Payne had an opportunity to all but seal it for Sydney, but managed to knock the ball wide when facing an open goal.

Melbourne looked to its bench, bringing on Evan Berger for Sukha and Aziz Behich for Ward, while Sydney replaced Payne with Cole.

Kisel almost headed in on 77 minutes, while Hernandez’s free kick flew tantalisingly across the face of goal.

But Melbourne didn’t have to wait long to get back on level terms.

On 81 minutes, Leigh Broxham won a free kick on the right and while it looked as if Hernandez would take it, Muscat rushed through and struck an excellent ball into the box.

Leijer leapt high above Ryall and finished superbly to Bolton’s left.

Leijer had another chance to score a few minutes later, but headed just over from Broxham’s cross, while Behich could have been a hero when he had a shot from close range but failed to make contact enough to beat Bolton.

The Hyundai A-League Grand Final went to extra time for the first time but there was very little meaningful attacking action for the first 15 minutes as both sides struggled with their heavy legs.

Sydney called for re-enforcement with Foxe replacing Stuart Musialik.

Bridge had a chance to win it on 110 minutes when he latched onto a free kick variation and rifled a shot which brought the best out of Langerak.

Hernandez and Cole also tested out the respective keepers from free kicks and when Hernandez failed to get a last-minute shot on goal, it was clear it would go to penalties.

Melbourne Victory 1 (Leijer 81)
Sydney FC 1 (Bridge 62)
Sydney won 4-2 on penalties
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