Honors even in the Melbourne derby again

Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory were forced to share the spoils for the third time on the rebound after playing out a 1-1 A-League Men’s draw.

Despite only landing in Australia on Thursday after being knocked out of the Asian Champions League in extra time by Japan’s Visell Kobe, Victory largely contained City’s powerful attack on Saturday and took the lead through to Marco Rojas in the 19th minute.

But City equalized Curtis Good on the stroke of half-time and returned to the top of the ALM table after Western United were beaten by Sydney FC after a kick-off.

Dropping to sixth thanks to the Sydney win, Victory host Western United in another derby on Wednesday, while City travel to Brisbane on the same night.

After a wary opener, Victory struck first when Ben Folami netted a brace with Jake Brimmer, sprinted into City’s half and slipped a pass behind their defensive line for Rojas to finish.

City controlled the stat sheet as the half progressed but struggled to create notable chances – having to be aware of Victory’s desire to attack on the counter.

But in such circumstances, set pieces can provide a safety net.

And it proved the case for the defending champions when Good met a short turn routine and sent a staring header into goalkeeper Ivan Kelava’s face and inside the far post.

Victory responded well and began to grow bolder in her forward forays in the second stanza; Josh Brillante was just denied a decisive goal in the 66th when Nuno Reis desperately dug in a boot to deflect his close-range shot from Folami’s cut.

City’s Jamie Maclaren, Stefan Colakovski and Good had chances to win the game with a late flurry – the latter hitting the post – but were unable to convert as the sides extended a run of draws in their rising clash to last season.

Sports Grp2

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