W-League: Sydney March into Finals

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Sydney FC will play Brisbane Roar in the Westfield W-League Grand Final for the second season in a row. Their comprehensive 5-1 defeat of Melbourne Victory confirmed also that they will host the match next Saturday afternoon.

Two goals to Leena Khamis, one to Kyah Simon and Nicole Bolger from the field and a penalty for Servet Uzunlar were sufficient to take care of the Final’s debutants Melbourne, who’s lone strike came from Stephanie Catley.

This was never going to be a replay of the hectic clash 24 hours before, Sydney were the overwhelming favourites and showed that during the match. Such was the dominance by Sydney that they had more than four times as many opportunities than Melbourne just in the opening half.

Yet, an error from the Matilda’s captain gave Sydney the opening to release the tension of the Semi-Final. Melissa Barbieri tried to send a short pass out to Ursula Hughson, but Khamis nipped in and sent a first-time chip over the stranded keeper.

The reply came from an error as well. Melbourne, somewhat against the run of play, took advantage of a poor touch by Teresa Polias. The ball then went to Catley who twisted her body to get onto her favoured left foot and slammed the ball into the top of the net.

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Not long before half-time Sydney were awarded a somewhat dubious penalty when the ball was adjudged to have struck Maika Ruyter-Hooley’s arm. Unzular stepped up and rifled the ball down the middle returning the lead to Sydney, this time for good.

Melbourne, though, did not lay back and fought hard while they were still one down. Yet their inability to find the last pass was to cost them dearly. Even when they brought on livewire Jodie Taylor, there was no change at that end of the field.

Then midway through the second period Sydney performed a one-two-blow on their opponents. After Khamis missed with a diving header from a Kylie Ledbrook free-kick, Simon played a one-two with Ledbrook before sending her shot inside the near post.

A minute later Khamis added her second. This time Ledbrook passed up the opportunity to shoot and pushed the ball to her left. Simon deflected it into the path of Khamis and her first time shot easily beat Barbieri.

That knocked the wind out of the already struggling Melbourne, although they could have got one goal back. When Kendall Fletcher charged down an attempted clearance by Dimi Poulos, the Victory player was unable to get up off the ground, turn and send the ball into the empty net. Instead it went agonisingly wide.

A bit of foolish play allowed Sydney to put the exclamation mark on the game only minutes from time. Instead of clearing, or allowing the ball to go out of play, the Victory kept it in, to Sydney’s advantage. In the end, Bolger was on the end of a quick move to pass the ball in for the final score.

The result means that Sydney will host Brisbane at Campbelltown Stadium next Saturday afternoon.

Photo courtesy: Pete Nowakowski

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