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2017/18 Australian A-League, 2017 Australian A-League
  • BobĂ´ (8')

Sydney lift Premiers' Plate after win over Melbourne Victory

Sydney FC will carry their A-League-dominating form into the finals after finishing the regular season with a 1-0 win over rivals Melbourne Victory.

Sydney lifted the annual beyondblue Cup, thanks to striker Bobo's 27th goal of the season, as well as the Premier's Plate for the second-straight year at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.

The Victory dominated possession but couldn't match the home side's organisation and efficiency. An out-of-sorts Besart Berisha could have given Melbourne the perfect start but his close-range shot after latching on to a through-ball was blocked by a sliding Alex Wilkinson in the fifth minute.

Two minutes later, Sydney made them pay for their wastefulness as Bobo extended his A-League season record. The Brazilian was the beneficiary of some clever left side link-up play between Michael Zullo and Milos Ninkovic, with Zullo firing in the cross for Bobo to get the deft touch on goal.

Alex Brosque almost had the second 11 minutes later when his header from a pinpoint Adrian Mierzejewski cross was stopped by Lawrence Thomas. Thomas again answered the call with a brilliant block from Ninkovic, who ran on to a Brosque through-ball on the half-hour mark.

Victory upped their intensity in the second half and Terry Antonis and Thomas Deng received yellow cards but it was FC with the first decent chance, via a powerful Brosque header, saved again by Thomas. Victory came within a whisker of the reply when Berisha put George through in midfield before the Dutch attacker's chip was cleared off the line by Wilkinson with another desperate slide in the 68th minute.

"It just shows you how hungry they are to win," Sky Blues coach Graham Arnold said. "They don't give up even when a player goes around the goalkeeper. They're still throwing themselves back on the line."

Victory coach Kevin Muscat said landing a psychological blow on the defending champions before the finals wasn't his motivation for the game.

"It was about putting on a performance worthy of three points," Muscat said. "I can't question the effort. I thought it was a decent performance.

"We had moments. I could almost say it was a swing of two goals because you almost go one goal up with the ball cleared off the line, and moments later you're one goal down."

Sydney FC, who have finished the regular season with at least a 14-point advantage from second-placed Newcastle, have the benefit of a weekend off before their first finals game.

Melbourne are set to finish fourth before a elimination final likely to be against Adelaide next weekend. But even if the Victory progress, there is likely be no repeat of last year's grand final, won by Sydney, as the teams are destined to clash if third-placed Melbourne City win in their eliminator.

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