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'Big game. Big result.': 3 things we learned - Sydney vs City

In our biggest result this season, the City girls have secured all three points against reigning Champions Sydney FC in a 2-1 clash between the 2019/20 title favourites.

Just three minutes into the game, Milica Mijatović made a driving run towards Sydney’s penalty area before laying off a perfectly-weighted ball for Emily van Egmond to expertly dispatch first time.

Sydney’s equaliser just before the end of the first half brought the game back to level terms, with Sofia Huerta capitalising on a well-placed aerial ball by Chloe Logarzo which largely bypassed our defence, capably finishing past Lydia Williams in goal.

However, it’d be Mijatović who’d pop up again to rescue the three points for City in the 76th minute, with the Serbian absolutely hammering the ball into the back of the net following a cross by Ellie Carpenter.

Following such an important result for our title challenge, here are three things we learned against Sydney FC:

We beat the best without being our best

The team’s performance against Sydney was another gradual improvement from the week before, as has been the case every round since our draw with Newcastle. Right across the pitch, players looked more comfortable and fluent than in last week’s win over Adelaide, yet the performance is still a fair way from our very best.

Finishing has been an issue right through our four W-League fixtures thus far and coming into this game, we’d initially forewarned that the few chances we earned against Sydney would need to be taken.

However, with both teams defending so poorly but transitioning the ball so effectively, there were plenty of big moments for either team, with the majority of City’s falling at the off-target feet of Claire Emslie, whilst Steph Catley had an opportunity just metres out which she astoundingly struck within a savable proximity from the goalkeeper.

Defensively, we also conceded plenty of big chances, particularly for Princess Ibini in the first half, so can count ourselves fortunate that Sydney didn’t post a few more either.

Ellie Carpenter was unfortunate not to have been able to clear the ball during the play that culminated in Sofia Huerta’s equaliser, though she’d fallen behind when tracking Huerta’s run into the box in the first place.

With a third consecutive win under our belt, the team’s starting to get closer to that performance ceiling where we’re a scary prospect to play against, but yesterday’s victory tends to indicate we’re still only at our 75% for now.

van Egmond is the clinical goalscorer we didn’t expect we’d need

With Kyah Simon and Claire Emslie yet to find their shooting boots, it’s been Emily van Egmond who’s taken her opportunities with aplomb, becoming our most effective attacking outlet thus far with three goals in four games.

With such versatility and confidence with the ball at their feet, Simon and Emslie often drift wide to receive passes, allowing van Egmond to float into the vacant centre-forward position and become our most advanced attacker.

Receiving the ball so often in and around the box, van Egmond’s shooting has been lethal this season, as exemplified by her classy first-touch finish in the third minute of yesterday’s clash.

Whilst Emslie and Simon will need to start finding the back of the net soon, especially with Victory coming up this week, van Egmond’s shown she’s capable of picking up the slack in the meantime and is demonstrating her world-class ability, becoming probably our best player this season so far.

Mijatović might just turn out to be our dark horse signing

We’ll be honest, we didn’t rate the signing of Milica Mijatović initially.

Compared to the explosive dynamism of Claire Emslie who we’d signed not long before her, Mijatović seemed as though she’d need to be played into the game by her teammates before being able to demonstrate her playmaking qualities, as opposed to actually pulling the strings and breaking the game open herself.

Yet her driving run towards the edge of the penalty area and well-placed lay-off for Emily van Egmond’s opener proved that she’s capable of making big things happen with the flick of a switch.

Throw in her 76th-minute absolute rocket of a goal, which would prove to be the winner, and it’s clear to see that the Serbian will be an important asset going forward now that she’s stumbled upon some good form.

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