Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory both remain unbeaten this season after playing out an entertaining 0-0 draw at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
In front of more than 21,000 fans, both sides created a host of opportunities but were either denied by some brilliant goal-keeping or guilty of some wasteful finishing.
Both sides had goals disallowed for offside in a frenetic opening 10 minutes, with chances created right throughout the first half.
And while the action slowed after the break both sides were good value for their point and continue to look like being serious title contenders.
WHAT THEY SAID
"We weren't really happy with the first half, we played a lot better in the second half. In the end on balance it's probably a fair result.
"I think for both sides the final pass, the final finish (was missing). We had two or three one-on-ones with keeper and so did they so in the end I think nil-nil is fair."
"It's always a tense affair when we play Sydney. We knew it was going to be hard because we've got a lot of men out.
"It shows credit to the depth that we have, a couple of young guys come in and do a job. We're looking forward to the boys coming back from injury and national duty."
Right on half-time the Victory were presented with another glorious chance as Besart Berisha beat Sasa Ognenovski on the half way to race clear on goal. Berisha unselfishly crossed the ball to an unmarked Fahid Ben Khalfallah at the back post who looked certain to score, only to be denied by a sensational save by Vedran Janjetovic. It ensured Sydney went to the sheds on level terms and in the end proved crucial as they came away with a hard-earned point.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The Sky Blues have now gone 426 minutes without conceding a goal in the Hyundai A-League and it’s the first time since January 2010 they have kept four clean sheets in a row.
It was like they had a personal, one-on-one duel. Victory attacker Archie Thompson got in behind the Sydney defence on three times in the first-half and looked like scoring on each occasion, only to be denied by the outstanding Sydney ‘keeper Vedran Janjetovic. The third save was particularly impressive, a stunning one-handed save to his right, showing amazing reflexes to tip the ball around the post from Thompson’s close-range strike.
A slip by Sydney defender Sasa Ognenovski allowed Fahid Ben Khalfallah through on goal. With Besart Berisha in support – and only goal-keeper Vedran Janjetovic in front of them - the Tunisian did the right thing by squaring the ball to his team-mate to tap. Only problem was Berisha had inexplicably got himself offside, blowing a certain goal inside the first five minutes.
THE FINAL WORD
Another solid performance and clean-sheet for Sydney, who are grinding out results even when not at their absolute best. It’s the sign of a pretty good side and will fill coach Graham Arnold with plenty of confidence going forward. They will expect to keep their unbeaten run going when they travel to take on Melbourne City next weekend. The Victory were superb despite being without as many as six first-teamers to international duty or injury. Kevin Muscat has some exceptional young talent at his disposal and they seem to be able to step up and fill any role asked of them. A huge clash against resurgent defending champions Brisbane Roar awaits on Friday night.