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Victory and Sydney battle to draw as finals race tightens

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Victory and Sky Blues share points

The Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC played out a 1-1 draw on Saturday night.

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Melbourne Victory‘s push for a top-two spot and the double chance is likely to go to the final kick of the A-League season.

Likewise Sydney’s battle to secure a spot in the finals after the teams finished with a goal apiece in an entertaining contest in front of 20,447 fans at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

The 1-1 draw means that Victory slips to fourth spot with 37 points, two less than Central Coast Mariners and one behind Western Sydney Wanderers.

Alessandro Del Piero of Sydney and Adrian Leijer of the Victory contest the ball during the round 25 match at AAMI Park on Saturday.

Alessandro Del Piero of Sydney and Adrian Leijer of the Victory contest the ball during the round 25 match at AAMI Park on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images

Sydney clings to sixth spot with 33, just one more than Newcastle which plays on Sunday. With two rounds left, eight of the 10 teams could still make the play-offs, with only Melbourne Heart and Perth out of business.

How times change. When he first came to the A-League Alessandro Del Piero was lionised and saluted, rightly, as one of the contemporary greats of the game after a stellar 19-year career at Juventus and almost as long for the Italian national team.

The gifted midfielder was lauded for his touch, vision, guile and creativity, not to mention his ability to find the net from various distances and angles with sumptuous set-pieces.

Even home fans would take their turns to applaud and pay tribute to the master, putting aside, for the time being, the fact that he was seeking to wreak havoc against their own team.

What a contrast in Melbourne on Saturday night, when the maestro was booed by the home fans after a mid-pitch collision with Victory skipper Mark Milligan.

It was a clash which left the Socceroo midfielder writhing in pain, triggering fears, at least for a moment or two, that he had once again damaged his knee.

Del Piero, so often the recipient of  positive refereeing  decisions during his two seasons in the A-League, this time found himself on the receiving end of a talking to from the man in the middle, Jarred Gillett.

It was a precursor to another animated conversation he was to have, this time with Milligan, as the pair left the field at half-time. The Italian didn’t look happy - although the fact that Victory’s fearsome boss Kevin Muscat stood between him and the walk to the tunnel at the interval might also have had something to do with his expression.

When Sydney came south on Australia Day and routed Victory 5-0 - surely the nadir of the latter’s season and the high point of the visitors - Del Piero had been the orchestrator, the creative fulcrum for a Sky Blues side that dominated throughout and never gave their hosts a sniff.

It was a different ADP on Saturday night, and, thus, a different Sydney. Not as fluid or slick as on that memorable day.

The Italian is pushing 40 and his mobility, it would be kind to say, is not what it was. He still produced some of his trademark flicks and tricks and, when his side got its nose in front, he seemed galvanised, running at goal on a few occasions.

But his greatest value lies in his skills with a dead ball.

For the vast majority of this game that looked as if it would be the Sky Blues best route to goal, and he looked to have been unlucky in the shadow of half-time when his firmly struck free-kick was deflected away from goal by Victory defender Scott Galloway. The ball appeared to clearly strike the youngster's hand, but Gillett waved away claims for a penalty.

The hosts enjoyed the bulk of possession in this game, but that is only nine-tenths of the law.

Victory played some nice football and its approach work was, at times, easy enough on the eye. But it lacked the most crucial quality of all, penetration, in the first half.

James Troisi blasted high and wide after some neat interplay between Jimmy Jeggo and Gui Finkler, while just after the half-hour mark Kosta Barbarouses dragged a shot wide of Vedran Janjetovic’s post.

But for all its huffing and puffing Victory did not create too many gilt-edged openings.

Sydney was not without some chances of its own in a first half in which it was cast in the role of counter-attacker, Lawrence Thomas having to save well from Matt Thompson’s shot after Del Piero’s lay-off.

Sydney looked as though it might pull off an upset when Joel Chianese, left unmarked, was able to roll home the opening goal shortly after the restart when Thomas could only parry Ali Abbas’ shot into his path.

But the hosts egrouped well as the game opened up in the final half-hour.

When Milligan dispossessed Abbas just outside the Sydney penalty area and slid a pass through to Finkler who, in turn conveyed it to Troisi, the striker still had plenty to do but finished with aplomb to score off the post and even the ledger.

Troisi went close with a long range drive, Chianese fired over when Del Piero’s ambitious volley fell into his path, but neither side could add to its tally. The nervous finish to the season continues for both.

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Hyundai A - 2014-15 - All Rounds

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Fri, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
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SYD 1 vs HRT 1 Stats
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Fri, 17 OctTimes shown AEDT
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Round 3
Fri, 24 OctTimes shown AEDT
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Round 4
Fri, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
HRT 1 vs ADE 2 Stats
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PER 2 vs NEW 1 Stats
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Round 5
Fri, 07 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs WSW Stats
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BRI 1 vs HRT 3 Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 14 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs BRI 4 Stats
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ADE 2 vs WEL 1 Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 21 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1 vs BRI Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 28 NovTimes shown AEDT
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WEL 5 vs HRT 1 Stats
NEW 1 vs CCM 1 Stats
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Round 9
Thu, 04 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD 1 vs PER 2 Stats
Fri, 05 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs VIC 3 Stats
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NEW 1 vs WEL 3 Stats
ADE 2 vs WSW Stats
Sun, 07 DecTimes shown AEDT
HRT 1 vs BRI Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 12 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs BRI 1 Stats
PER 2 vs NEW Stats
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WEL 1 vs CCM 1 Stats
VIC 3 vs SYD 3 Stats
Wed, 11 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW 3 vs HRT 2 Stats
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Round 11
Fri, 19 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2 vs ADE 1 Stats
Sat, 20 DecTimes shown AEDT
HRT 1 vs VIC Stats
PER 4 vs CCM 1 Stats
Sun, 21 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs WEL 2 Stats
Wed, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1 vs WSW 4 Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 26 DecTimes shown AEDT
HRT 1 vs PER 1 Stats
SYD vs ADE 3 Stats
Sat, 27 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM 3 vs BRI 3 Stats
VIC 1 vs NEW Stats
Sun, 28 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs WSW Stats
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Round 13
Tue, 30 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2 vs HRT 5 Stats
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Wed, 31 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1 vs WEL 3 Stats
Thu, 01 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs CCM Stats
Fri, 02 JanTimes shown AEDT
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Round 14
Sat, 03 JanTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs NEW Stats
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WEL 3 vs BRI Stats
CCM 2 vs HRT Stats
Mon, 05 JanTimes shown AEDT
PER 1 vs ADE 2 Stats
Tue, 06 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1 vs VIC 2 Stats
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Round 15
Sat, 24 JanTimes shown AEDT
ADE 7 vs NEW Stats
CCM 1 vs SYD 5 Stats
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PER 3 vs VIC 3 Stats
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HRT 2 vs WSW 1 Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 06 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1 vs BRI 2 Stats
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Round 17
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs BRI 2 Stats
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WEL vs HRT Stats
NEW 1 vs WSW 1 Stats
SYD 3 vs VIC 3 Stats
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Round 18
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
SYD 4 vs CCM 2 Stats
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Round 19
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HRT 3 vs ADE 1 Stats
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Round 20
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs SYD 1 Stats
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WEL 2 vs ADE Stats
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CCM 1 vs HRT Stats
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Round 21
Thu, 12 MarTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2 vs CCM 1 Stats
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs VIC 3 Stats
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HRT 4 vs NEW Stats
PER 1 vs WEL 2 Stats
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Round 22
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs HRT 1 Stats
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WSW 1 vs NEW 2 Stats
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Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
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BRI 1 vs WEL 2 Stats
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Round 23
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC vs CCM 19:40AAMI Park
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
HRT vs BRI 19:30AAMI Park
PER vs WSW 21:30nib Stadium
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs SYD 15:00Westpac Stadium
NEW vs ADE 17:00Hunter Stadium
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Round 24
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
BRI vs CCM 20:00Suncorp Stadium
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs HRT 19:40Pirtek Stadium
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs ADE 19:30Allianz Stadium
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WEL vs VIC 17:00Westpac Stadium
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Round 25
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
VIC vs NEW 19:40AAMI Park
PER vs SYD 21:45nib Stadium
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HRT vs WEL 17:00AAMI Park
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Round 26
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL vs CCM 17:30Westpac Stadium
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Round 27
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
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Round 29
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Round 30
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Sydney FC 22 10 4 10 38
Perth Glory 22 10 4 7 38
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