David Villa made an immediate impact on the Hyundai A-League with a goal on debut to help Melbourne City grab a point in a 1-1 draw with Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
The Spanish World Cup star – on a 10-game guest stint with City – scored 15 minutes after coming on as a second half substitute, cancelling out Corey Gameiro’s stunning opener early in the second half.
The Sky Blues almost won it at the death with only the crossbar denying Terry Antonis from becoming the hero from a powerful dipping volley.
City will head home to host Newcastle Jets next week with confidence thanks to the quality of their first-up showing while Sydney FC will look to show more in front of their home fans with the visit of fierce local rivals Western Sydney Wanderers.
What they said:
“Both teams probably created as many chances as each other. We could have taken it at the end there with Antonis’ shot but probably a fair result in the end. – Alex Brosque
“It’s good to get the season underway and see where we’re at really. I think we deserved more out of the game but to get a point after going 1-0 down is fair enough. – Damien Duff.
1-0 - Gameiro (54’)
Nick Carle found some rare space in midfield and feed Gameiro on the left, with the in-form attacker curling a stunning shot over Andrew Redmayne and into the far, top corner of the net.
1-1 – Villa (63’)
Massimo Murdocca sent Damien Duff free down the right, with the Irishman getting into the box and cutting the ball back to the top of the box, where Villa took one touch to get around Sebastian Ryall before burying his shot into the corner of the net.
Introduced into the contest early in the second half, Villa received a warm welcome, with even many Sydney FC fans rising to their feet for the Spanish star. And while he wasn’t sighted for the first 15 minutes, Villa showed his world-class ability with a goal of great skill and composure to drag his side back into the contest just when it looked like the Sky Blues were wrestling the ascendancy.
City dominated the first half and would have taken a deserved lead if not for a superb save by Vedran Janjetovic midway through the first half. A corner was cleared to the edge of the box, with Mate Dugandzic hitting a powerful, first-time volley back towards goal which had the Sky Blues ‘keeper at full stretch, diving to his left to keep it out.
Sydney struggled to keep possession under City’s midfield press, often tuning the ball over in the middle of the park. It left the Sky Blues open to be hit on transition, giving the likes of Damien Duff and James Brown plenty of chances to run at a retreating back four. No matter how solid Arnold has got his side’s defensive structure, it won’t survive long if they keep giving the ball away in dangerous areas.
Back to the drawing board
Without Mark Janko, Bernie Ibini (both on international duty) and Shane Smeltz (injured), Sydney FC struggled to create many genuine scoring chances and really pressure City’s central defence of Patrick Kisnorbo and Rob Wielaert. Skipper Alex Brosque and Corey Gameiro had their moments but missed the presence of their other big-name team-mates.
The Final Word
After an impressive pre-season campaign, Sydney FC looked rather disjointed but it could have had a lot to do with the amount of players they had missing. Janko, Ibini, Ali Abbas, Shane Smeltz, Hagi Gligor and Chris Naumoff were all unavailable and it affected their cohesiveness. Arnold will be pleased his side still managed to grind out a result when below their best, but they will need to improve with some big challenges awaiting them in coming weeks.
Considering the amount of new faces in the City side, John van ‘t Schip will be pleased with the way his troops combined. Duff, Mooy, Villa and Paartalu all performed and indications are they will be a much tougher proposition in season 2014/15.
Sydney FC: Janjetovic, Ryall, Ognenovski, Petkovic, Jurman (Gersbach 69’), Antonis, Dimitrijevic, Carle, Gameiro (Burgess 89’), Brosque (c), Blackwood (Triantis 51’)
Melbourne City: Redmayne, Archibald, Wielaert, Kisnorbo (c), Eamsay, Paartalu, Mooy, Murdocca, Duff, Dugandzic (Marino 73’), Brown (Villa 48’)
Scorers: Gameiro 54’, Villa 63’
Red cards: N/A
Yellow cards: Antonis (25’), Carle (36’), Mooy (72’)
Conditions: 23C, dry