Victory fall short

Kevin Muscat's big night has ended in disappointment but not defeat as Melbourne Victory totally dominated Sydney FC in Saturday night's blockbuster Hyundai A-League clash at Etihad Stadium but failed to deliver the knockout blow.

Kevin Muscat's big night has ended in disappointment but not defeat as Melbourne Victory totally dominated Sydney FC in Saturday night's blockbuster Hyundai A-League clash at Etihad Stadium but failed to deliver the knockout blow.

The Victory's 0-0 draw against the Sky Blues - on the night Muscat became only the second Australian player after Alex Tobin to chalk up 500 career goals - maintains the reigning champions' three point lead over Sydney at the top of the table but it could so easily have been the night when Melbourne took a stranglehold on top spot.

Such was Melbourne's dominance that Ernie Merrick's team had 21 shots to six for the match and seven corners to one but despite moving the ball as well as they have at any time during their two championship winning seasons the elusive goal simply would not come.

The crowd of 27,344 - nearly as many as which attended all five A-League games last weekend - did everything it could to lift Melbourne but from the time Archie Thompson hit the cross bar as early as the second minute one sensed it might just be one of those frustrating nights.

However the positives were the fact that Melbourne kept its fourth clean sheet in the past five matches, since the impressive Mitch Langerak replaced Glenn Moss in goal, while Victory has still lost just twice in the past 15 matches.

Incredibly it was Melbourne's first 0-0 draw anywhere since the opening game of last season against Sydney in Sydney - ending a run of 41 matches without a goalless stalemate.

And it was Melbourne's first scoreless draw at home in more than two years with the last again being against Sydney back in November 10, 2007 during round 12 of the 2007/08 season.

But Melbourne will be left wondering just how it did not win this game after dominating the first half in particular and creating enough chances to win half a dozen games.

Thompson in particular terrorised the Sydney defence and as early as the second minute he smacked a shot against the cross bar after being teed up by Robbie Kruse after he had robbed Alex Brosque of possession.

Ten minutes later and Thompson was again in behind the defence but scuffed his shot after Kruse's initial shot had been deflected into his path.

Thompson was continuing to frighten the visitors' defence with his pace with Terry McFlynn drawing a yellow card in the 25th minute when he cynically hacked him down as he threatened to burst down the right.

Kruse was also causing Sydney plenty of problems and after he was fouled in the 33rd minute, Carlos Hernandez blasted the free kick wide.

A minute later and Thompson again threatened but could only find the side netting as he would also do in the 44th minute.

Then right on the stroke of half-time there were shouts from the huge crowd for a penalty on Kruse after he had become entangled with Sydney's Swiss defender Stephan Keller but it was waved away.

But ironically while Melbourne dominated the first half it was Sydney that actually had the best chance when veteran playmaker Steve Corica put the in-form Brosque through one-on-one against Victory keeper Mitch Langerak but Langerak was equal to the challenge as he pulled off a great save.

The chances continued to come in the second half with Matthew Kemp coming close with a half volley in the 56th minute while Thompson headed just over in the 71st minute before Kruse then had a shot beaten away at the near post in the 73rd minute.

However after weathering such a ferocious onslaught Sydney grew in confidence and actually came close twice to pinching an undeserved win late on as both Corica and Brosque shot wide from positions where they should have scored.

Melbourne Victory: 0 Sydney FC: 0 Crowd: 27,344 at Etihad Stadium