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Villa proves his worth as City’s new era starts with a draw

Melbourne City and Sydney FC have played out a 1-1 draw at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium on an historic night for both the Melbourne club and the A-League.

A healthy crowd of 25,525 fans saw the first outing of the rebranded Melbourne City and also the first match for arguably the A-League’s biggest ever marquee international, Spanish superstar David Villa.

Despite the new name, kit and owners, Melbourne City started their new era in the old red and white stripes worn by Melbourne Heart.

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold was forced to start with a youthful lineup for his first match of the season, as Sydney was missing a host of first team players due to international duty, as well as New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz through injury.

Highly-rated 17 year old striker George Blackwood made his debut for the Sky Blues, alongside in-form striker Corey Gameiro who had scored 12 goals during the pre-season.

Melbourne City were missing marquee signing and Slovenian international Robert Koren through injury, while the man everyone had come to see, David Villa, started on the bench, after only arriving in Melbourne mid-week.

Melbourne City started the better of the two sides — dominating possession in the opening exchanges — and were unlucky not to take the lead in just the fifth minute, as James Brown’s shot from outside the box had Sydney keeper Vedran Janjetovic well beaten before it slammed into the crossbar.

In the opening 10 minutes, City looked like a team ready to prove a point and move on from their unsuccessful days as Melbourne Heart.

New signing Damien Duff showed why he has won two Premier League titles with Chelsea and 100 international caps for his native Ireland with several dangerous crosses and skillful runs up the wing early in the game.

Soon after, James Brown was involved again, this time playing a gorgeous lofted through ball which sailed just over the lunging right foot of Aaron Mooy in the penalty area.

Mate Dugandzic then had a golden opportunity to put the visitors ahead in the 25th minute. Experienced Sydney defender Sasa Ognenosvki miskicked a back pass and let Dugandzic run unmarked toward goal, but his ensuing shot went just wide.

Dugandzic came close again a few minutes later as he produced a beautiful long range shot that was superbly saved by Janjetovic.

Despite City’s dominance, the two sides went into the break locked at 0-0. Three minutes into the second half, the crowd was finally given a glimpse of Villa. Brown made way for the Spanish star as he was greeted with a mixture of boos from the Sydney fans, and cheers from the City fans.

Match Details Full match details »

Date/Time Sat Oct 11, 2014, 7:30 PMStadium Allianz StadiumAttendance 25,525Referee Peter Green

Sydney

Yellow Card25′ T.AntonisYellow Card36′ N.CarleGoal54′ C.Gameiro

Melb. City

Goal63′ D.VillaYellow Card72′ A.Mooy

However, the cheers from Melbourne fans were short lived as the home side went ahead in the 54th minute against the run of play, when Corey Gameiro beat City keeper Andrew Redmayne with a sensational finish from the edge of the area.

However, seven minutes later, David Villa proved his worth and showed why he is one of the best strikers in the world. Unlike City’s several near misses in the first half, the Spanish striker needed just one chance.

Like he had done all game, Damien Duff made a wonderful run up the wing before squaring the ball to Villa just outside the area. Villa’s first touch was all class and he created space from his opponent and finished beautifully into the bottom corner to level the score.

It was the perfect script for the fans, for Melbourne City and for the A-League.

The best chance to win the game came in the 89th minute when Sydney’s Terry Antonis hit the cross bar from long range.

Both sides have a lot of room for improvement, as City perhaps should’ve won the game had they taken their chances, while Sydney FC will rue their poor start.

Melbourne City next face the Newcastle Jets at home, and Sydney face the Wanderers in the derby.

About the author

avatarBen is a Journalism graduate, a Melbourne Victory fan and contributor to Ultimate A-League.

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