'Four straight': Three things we learned - City vs Sydney
Unbelievable. In a domineering fashion, our City boys have refused to let the APL lap dogs into the Grand Final, smashing Sydney FC by four goals to nil on a freezing Melbourne night.
The game began with Max Burgess making a disgustingly dangerous tackle on Marco Tilio, rightfully getting sent off in the 20th minute. Shortly after, Jamie Maclaren flicked a Valon Berisha delivery onto the post, coming agonisingly close.
Berisha's deliveries continued to cause the Sydney defence pain, sending Mathew Leckie in on goal, only for Andrew Redmayne to make a solid save down low. The Yellow Wiggle could not do anything when Valon sent in a pin-point delivery from the corner, with Curtis Good nodding the ball down into the turf, and into the goal.
Jordan Bos and Thomas Lam shared chances within a five-second period as City continued to dominate the match completely. Jack Rodwell finished well into his own net, scoring our second from a whipping ball from Andrew Nabbout. Soon after, Aiden O'Neill was not messing around as he stole the ball from a sleeping Sydney midfield, played Tilio in, and just watched the magic. Tilio's finish found out Redmayne's weakness of getting too low, too early, lifting it above his head.
Just 15 minutes later, Maclaren became provider with a lovely turn and pass into the path of Richard van der Venne, who simply curled it past Redmayne from just outside the box, finishing the game with a 4-0 win; 5-1 on aggregate.
What did we learn during this semi-final? Let's get into it:
The APL lose
With The Cove back-flipping on their boycott and the APL obviously wanting a Sydney side in the Grand Final, it was truly heroic as City came out on top as dominant victors. Maintaining a possession rate of 77% and keeping Tom Glover well and truly cold all night, there was never any doubt.
Now, we wait to see who our opponents will be as Adelaide United attempt to overturn a Central Coast lead in the first leg. Either way, there will not be a Sydney-based team in the Grand Final, which will hopefully mean that the stadium is much emptier than it should be in the final game of the season.
This is not only a massive win for our club, but a massive win for those who have been fighting against the APL after their shocking decision. We should be gearing up now for another home Grand Final, but instead, a great majority of fans (boycotting or not) will simply not be able to attend in Sydney. An absolute joke.
At the end of the day, we are still supporting our boys from afar, and will be watching them fight for another Championship in two weeks' time.
Berisha was unstoppable
The Kosovan played a great game last night which may go under the radar, creating multiple chances from his deliveries into the box. No matter where he is on the pitch, he can be incredibly dangerous. From the edge of the box, a corner, or a long-range free-kick, Berisha found his teammates in fantastic positions.
On another day, he'd have had a hat-trick of assists in the first half. This poses a great question, where will Berisha be going after the end of this season? Will Still and his Reims side could want Berisha back for their first team after a successful campaign at City.
I'd certainly hope that we could keep the midfielder on for next season, as visa players generally do better in their second season.
A fourth straight Grand Final!
Absolutely insane to think that only four years ago, we had not even made our first Grand Final. Now, we're about to go into our fourth in as many seasons, having won three Premierships consecutively throughout.
It is a testament to our coaching staff, our players, and our fans to how well this club is being run. It really is a well-oiled machine. Who knows how far our success can take us in Australian football, especially considering the turn of the tide in outgoing transfer fees, the creation of a National Second Division, and the improvement of quality in the league.
We will be taking on the Mariners or Adelaide in a couple of weeks' time. Let's hope for yet another performance from the top drawer.