Sydney FC have been denied an historic third straight A-League championship, after falling 3-1 to Melbourne City in Sunday evening's grand final.
Shellharbour's Joel King and his Sky Blues teammates battled manfully despite being down to 10 men for the majority of the contest, after Luke Brattan was sent off in the 35th minute in front of 15,000 supporters at Melbourne's AAMI Park.
The visitors had taken an early lead through Kosta Barbarouses, but goals to Nathaniel Atkinson, captain Scott Jamieson and Scott Galloway set up the win for City, who dominated possession and territory during the game.
"First and foremost, full credit to them. They've been the benchmark for the last three years. They kept coming this year, so full credit to them," Jamieson told Fox Sports after the game.
"But that feels amazing. I've lost a few (grand finals), but I just felt all week that we were good enough to do it, and we would do it. I think I will let it sink in for a while, because this was the big one that I wanted."
City were on the front foot early, forcing three corners within the first four minutes. However, the visitors managed to hold on each time.
Sydney FC's best chance came in the ninth minute when Tom Glover ponderously held up possession in front of his goals, with Bobo sneaking up to apply pressure, before the gloveman managed to clear the ball.
At the other end, City's Marco Tilio went within inches of scoring twice in the space of 30 seconds.
After absorbing that initial onslaught, the Sky Blues managed to stabilise. And it was the visitors who hit the scoreboard first midway through the first half, with Barbarouses's stunning strike from outside the box finding the back of the net.
But Sydney FC's joy was short lived, with the hosts equalising three minutes later.
A wonderful team movement saw the ball finish at the feet of Atkinson, who beat King and goalkeeper Thomas Heward-Belle to draw level at 1-1.
The game's turning point then came in the 35th minute when Sydney FC's Brattan received his second yellow card, reducing his side to 10 men for the rest of the contest.
Things went from bad to worse for the Sky Blues on the stroke of half time, with the referee ruling that Anthony Caceras dragged down Adrian Luna inside the box. Jamieson made no mistake from the penalty spot, as City took a 2-1 lead into the break.
City's Nuno Reis had the best chance minutes into the second half, but his long-range attempt swung wide. In the 56th minute, Atkinson also had a great opportunity, but his shot missed the target.
Four minutes later, Stefan Colakovski looked to have sealed City's win, but was denied by a great Heward-Belle save in close, before King frantically cleared the ball away.
But City continued to dominate possession and territory in the second half, with Sydney FC making rare runs into attack.
Sky Blues coach Steve Corica rolled the dice with around 20 minutes left, bringing on Milos Ninkovic, despite the star midfielder being under an injury cloud.
But it was City who continued to press hard, with Heward-Belle making two fantastic saves in-a-row to deny the hosts a third goal in the 81st minute.
City continued to make the most of their one-man advantage in the latter stages, as the visitors continued to desperately scramble in defence. Any chance was snuffed out in the 94th minute when Galloway scored to round out the 3-1 victory.
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