Sydney FC wins historic fifth A-League grand final

Sydney FC coach Steve Corica praised the culture of the Sydney club after the Sky Blues became the most successful team in Australian soccer history by winning Sunday’s A-League decider.

Just like last year with a penalty shoot-out win over Perth Glory, Sydney FC eventually came out on top of a championship decider played on a knife-edge.

They could easily have fallen behind but Harrison Delbridge’s 18th-minute strike for City was chalked off by VAR review.

Instead, it was Rhyan Grant’s left-field 100th-minute winner – forced over the line with his chest – that proved to be the game’s decisive moment.

Sydney FC became the first club to win five championships dating back to the start of the former National Soccer League in 1977, eclipsing the achievements of fellow A-League club Melbourne Victory and Sydney City, South Melbourne and Marconi in the NSL.

Their recent dynasty is underlined by the fact it is the club’s third title in four seasons.

The Sky Blues join Brisbane Roar as the only club to have consecutive grand finals since the A-League commenced in 2005.

“It feels amazing, to win two in a row is pretty special,” said Corica.

“Going back-to-back and becoming the most successful club in Australian history at the moment with five championships is great.

“We have a great culture here and a great club.

“It (this achievement) will probably sink in a bit more tomorrow.

“It’s been the longest season ever, I am just so proud of these boys for not just winning the premiership but the championship as well.”

Experience of the big occasion fell heavily in favour of Sydney FC with 18 previous grand final appearances among its match-day squad, compared to just three for Melbourne City.

Corica said after Wednesday’s 2-0 win semi-final over Perth Glory that was “probably their best performance of the season”, but there was far less fluidity on display from the Sky Blues in the first half of the grand final.

Stretched several times at the back in the first half, City carved out far more sights of goal.

More concerning for Sydney FC was unusually quiet creative outlet Milos Ninkovic and the star Serbian import’s weak effort on the hour mark – perhaps the best chance of the match up to that point – was emblematic of his evening.

But as the match wore on the Sky Blues eventually garnered more control and City goalkeeper Tom Glover kept his side in the contest during the latter stages.

“The disallowed goal helped us a bit, I think it woke us up a bit,” said Corica.

“We controlled the second half and probably the better of the chances and we played really well once we settled into our style.”

Sydney FC has little time to rest with their AFC Champions League set to resume in October, although the 2020 competition remains in doubt due to the ongoing pandemic.

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