So, what happened? For starters, I was pleasantly surprised to see Damien Duff pulling the strings for Melbourne. Obviously the Irishman isn’t as quick as he once was over the ground, but he seems just as good at the prompting and probing parts of the game and looked the classiest operator during the first half.
I was particularly impressed with the performance of Iain Ramsay at wing-back for Melbourne; rarely threatened, he dealt with the ball calmly when he got it and operated well going both forwards and backwards – simple passes, good positioning and a decently timed tackle. He’ll be one I look out for in future.
Indeed, partly as a result of Ramsay’s performance, the first half saw Sydney’s best attacks coming down the right hand side, looking to get to the by-line and pull the ball across the box. It was a simple plan, but fairly effective, even if their best chances were flashed wide or over.
I went out at half time, so watched the second period on fast forward later. The big story before the break had been David Villa warming up – he entered the action a little over 5 minutes into the second half, and scored a clinical equaliser, rifling in a low shot from just outside the box.
Terry Antonis, who I’d noticed putting in a couple of really ‘lively’ challenges during the first half for Sydney then nearly clinched it in the death throes, lashing his shot off the crossbar. Welcome back, A-League.
Entertainment factor? 7/10.