Victory edged by Sydney in Grand Final rematch
An understrength Melbourne Victory was edged 1-0 by Sydney FC in its Hyundai A-League opener at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
Thomas Deng scored an unfortunate own goal in the second half and it was all that separated the teams in the Grand Final rematch.
Victory had its moments throughout the encounter, but was unable to find a goal in the Round 1 clash.
The hosts were without Mark Milligan, James Troisi and Kosta Barbarouses due to international duty.
It meant a debut for signing Leroy George, who started in attack, and a first Victory league appearance for Rhys Williams.
Victory made a bright start with George lively, the attacker's fourth-minute corner headed over by Williams.
Mitch Austin was denied by a last-ditch Jordy Buijs tackle in the 12th minute as the hosts dominated the opening exchanges.
Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas was called into action just before the half-hour mark, his strong right hand denying Adrian Mierzejewski.
It was an otherwise tense opening half, and Sydney took the lead shortly after the break.
A cross from Luke Wilkshire was aimed at Alex Brosque, but Deng turned the ball past Thomas after the Sydney captain was unable to connect with his header.
After Bobo missed a close-range header for the visitors, Thomas produced a fine low save to deny Wilkshire.
Jai Ingham went close for Victory on the hour-mark, the winger heading a George corner onto the roof of the net.
As Victory built in response to going behind, a Leigh Broxham cross almost found the top corner, with Sydney goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne tipping the effort around his post.
Josh Hope made his Hyundai A-League debut off the bench and produced a lively cameo, but Victory was unable to find an equaliser despite piling on the pressure late.
Victory next faces City in the Melbourne Derby at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, October 14.
Hyundai A-League 2017/18 Round 1
Melbourne Victory 0
Sydney FC 1 (Thomas Deng 53' og)
Melbourne Victory: Thomas (gk), Deng, Williams, Donachie, Geria, Broxham, Valeri (c), Austin (Theoharous 82'), George (Hope 65'), Ingham, Berisha
Sydney FC: Redmayne (gk), Retre, Wilkinson, Buijs, Wilkshire, O'Neill, Brillante, Ninkovic, Brosque (c) (Simon 67'), Mierzejewski (Carney 75'), Bobo (Ryall 89')
Yellow cards: Valeri 58', Retre 70'
Red cards: Nil
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Melbourne