The reinvigoration of the Melbourne Derby as one of A-League Men’s most hard-fought premier fixtures has taken another step after Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory played out a 1-1 draw at AAMI Park.
Following City’s 6-0 and 7-0 humiliations of Victory in the first two derbies of 2020-21 – arguably the lowest points in Victory’s history – Saturday night’s result represented a third straight stalemate between the two sides.
And seeing the progress, Victory coach Tony Popovic believes his side now has what it takes to challenge the defending champions.
“Overall, it’s a very good performance,” he said.
“Today we showed progress from the last match.
“We could’ve won the last derby. Today, we should’ve won. That’s the difference. We should have won today.”
With 18,080 supporters on hand, it was the second-straight derby played in front of one of the biggest crowds of this ALM season.
Clear chances for both sides arriving at a premium, fantastic work from Ben Folami set Marco Rojas up to open the scoring for Victory in the 18th minute.
But City was able to answer on the stroke of halftime through Curtis Good’s header from a corner.
Emotions bubbled throughout the second stanza: Scott Jamieson and Nick D’Agostino, Stefan Colakovski and Jason Davidson getting into altercations before the two sides engaged in a shoving match after the final whistle.
“(It was) handbags stuff. It’s nothing. It’s emotions,” City coach Patrick Kisnorbo said.
“It felt like a derby in the first game (of the season), there was a lot on the line, and it felt that way today,” added Popovic.
“The intensity was very high throughout the game – from start to finish.”
Despite only landing back in Australia on Thursday after being knocked out of the Asian Champions League in extra time by Japan’s Visell Kobe, Victory frustrated City’s high-powered attack and looked dangerous in transition.
City, conversely, finished both halves strongly and had a flurry of chances to win it late through Jamie Maclaren, Colakovski, and Good – the latter hitting the post.
“In the end, we could have won it,” said Kisnorbo.
“It was a hard game of football and probably good for the neutral to watch.”
Top of the ALM after Western United’s loss to Sydney, City will travel to face Brisbane on Wednesday, while Victory falling to sixth after that Sky Blue win, will face Western in another derby that night.