Sport

Melbourne City crown perfect season with W-League grand final win over Sydney FC

Melbourne City's W-League season for the ages has ended in the best possible fashion with a 4-1 grand final triumph over Sydney FC at AAMI Park, delivering the club the title in its first season of competition.

Melbourne City will take on sister club Manchester City.
Melbourne City will take on sister club Manchester City. Photo: Getty Images

City have been the dominant force in the women's game all season and this was a comprehensive triumph.

Scottish internationals Jen Beattie and Kim Little, along with Australian teenager Beattie Goad and Matildas captain Lisa De Vanna, got the goals for the champions. City's only anxious moments came for a few minutes after Sydney were handed a lifeline from the penalty spot with 22 minutes left, Kyah Simon converting to make the score 2-1 before City took control again.

Lisa De Vanna evades Natalie Tobin.
Lisa De Vanna evades Natalie Tobin. Photo: Getty Images

Player of the match Little was a stand-out in her last game for the club, as she confirmed after the game that she would not be returning next year. "I won't be coming back next season. It was a one-year thing for me, but it [winning the championship] is right up there," she told journalists after the match.

City coach Joe Montemurro said the win was the culmination of months of planning and effort. 

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"I am immensely proud. It breaks the shackles … We are proud of being part of the group and I just think this bunch of players is a special group. I am proud from a personal and work perspective. We train and work for it every day and it happened.

City began a little nervously but soon got into gear and began to make the early running, with Catley, De Vanna and dynamic Little, the midfield prompter, heavily involved. Sydney, however, absorbed the early pressure and made some chances of their own as the game ebbed and flowed.

Beattie Goad celebrates her goal.
Beattie Goad celebrates her goal. Photo: Getty Images

Little, in particular, was the metronome by which City ticked. Small in stature, she  makes up for a lack of inches with terrific technique and a tremendous work rate.

Jess Fishlock had passed a late fitness tests for the hosts but seemed hampered by the injury she picked up in Monday's semi-final shoot-out win over Brisbane. 

It was her early foul that gave Sydney one of their better first-half chances, Alanna Kennedy's free kick bringing a good diving save from Brianna Davey.

Fishlock then curled a shot over as City began to impose themselves on a determined Sydney, who showed there was plenty of life in them when Simon shot over from long range.

City got the breakthrough they were looking for in the 32nd minute. Little's cross from the left found Beattie at the far post, the big central defender having come up to lend her support to the strikers. Her header was parried onto the post by Sydney goalkeeper Michelle Betos, but Beattie reacted like the striker she had once been by prodding the rebound home.

City had a chance to double the advantage 10 minutes later when Little's pass found winger Goad in space, but the teenager's shot was too weak to trouble Betos.

City forced a succession of corners early in the second period as they looked for the goal to put the game to bed, but Sydney were dangerous on the break through the speedy Jasmyne Spencer, who was denied by a Beattie tackle.

The hosts got the goal they were looking for nine minutes after the restart and it was Little who delivered after Beattie had been shoved to the ground by Simon just outside the Sydney penalty area. 

The midfielder and Fishlock, who also play together at Seattle Reign in the US women's league, debated who would take the set piece, amazingly deciding the matter with a game of rock paper scissors. 

Little triumphed and then lined up her angle perfectly. Although Betos got hands to her lofted delivery, she could do nothing to stop it going in.

Afterwards she smiled as she explained the process: "We have done that once before in Seattle, normally I take them [free kicks] … because I am on set pieces she has to win [the rock paper scissors game] to get me off it."

Little almost notched her second on the hour mark when she struck the post before the flying Spencer drove forward and fired over.

Sydney were thrown a lifeline when Beattie was judged to have fouled Kennedy in the area: Simon converted the spot kick and with 21 minutes to play there was plenty of time left for the visitors to get back into this game.

But the third and decisive goal came with 11 minutes remaining when the profligate Goad, who had missed a third chance shortly before, kept her cool after being played through by De Vanna, and fired past Betos.

City could have stretched the margin still further but for an excellent Betos save which denied Little a second goal. De Vanna did complete the rout in stopppage time when she coolly chipped past Betos with seconds remaining.