Melbourne City played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg of its Semi Final tie against Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.
After initially hitting the front thanks to an 18th -minute Mathew Leckie goal, City was unlucky to concede midway through the second half when Adam Le Fondre equalised from the penalty spot.
Head Coach Rado Vidosic made two changes for the first leg of the Semi Final, with Valon Berisha and Leckie both returning to the starting XI.
This saw Andrew Nabbout move to the bench, while Aiden O’Neill missed the trip to Sydney through injury.
Starting XI: 1. Tom GLOVER (GK), 25. Callum TALBOT, 4. Nuno REIS, 22. Curtis GOOD, 38. Jordan BOS, 8. Richard VAN DER VENNE, 10. Florin BERENGUER, 14. Valon BERISHA, 7. Mathew LECKIE, 23. Marco TILIO, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C).
Substitutes: 33. Matthew SUTTON (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 3. Scott JAMIESON, 6. Thomas LAM, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 35. Raphael BORGES RODRIGUES, 37. Max CAPUTO.
With so much on the line in the first leg away from home, tensions were high and both sides tested each other out in the opening exchanges.
City got the better of those early stages though, Valon Berisha capitalising from a set piece to the left of the box.
Having made his way back into the City starting lineup, Berisha made his impact known, whipping in a bullet-like ball that Leckie got his head to in the 18th minute to give us the early lead.
As Sydney ramped up its intensity towards the back-end of the first half, City was fortunate to stay ahead with goalkeeper Tom Glover coming up with not one, but two fantastic saves in the 44th minute to preserve the narrow one-goal lead.
After making the initial save, Glover launched himself back towards goal and his outstretched glove was enough to deny Robert Mak on the follow-up.
The contest well and truly came to life in the second half, with tensions rising as both sides continued to ramped up the intensity.
A Nuno Reis foul in the box saw a penalty awarded on the hour mark, although Glover continued his standout performance with a fantastic save from the spot.
Unfortunately for the City faithful watching on back home, full-back Callum Talbot was pinged for prematurely entering the box, ultimately forcing a re-take of the penalty that Adam Le Fondre successfully converted.
Other than seeing a Sydney goal ruled out for offside, City had the better of the final half hour of the contest but struggled to translate it into clear cut chances.
While a crucial second goal couldn’t be found from either team in the latter stages, the clash is now perfectly poised for a huge second leg.
City will return to Melbourne on Sunday morning to begin preparations for next Friday night’s home leg with a spot in the Grand Final up for grabs.
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