Record crowd sees Victory, Sydney draw - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Record crowd sees Victory, Sydney draw

By Guy Hand 08/12/2006 10:33:12 PM Comments (0)

The Australian record crowd for a club soccer match was shattered, but Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC's defences couldn't be broken in a tense 0-0 A-League draw at Telstra Dome.

More than 50,000 people - 50,333 to be exact - crammed into Telstra Dome for an exciting match in which both teams defended brilliantly and neither could find a goal.

The result leaves the Victory agonisingly short of claiming the league title, but still 13 points clear of second-placed Sydney FC with five rounds remaining.

It is a valuable point for Sydney to push two points clear of third-placed Newcastle in the battle for a major semi-final spot.

The game's two best chances fell to Victory striker Archie Thompson in the second half.

First Sydney FC goalkeeper Clint Bolton saved Thompson's one-on-one chance in the 53rd minute - Bolton's timely intervention nearly guiding the ball into the path of oncoming Victory striker Danny Allsopp.

Then five minutes later Thompson shimmied between two defenders on a spectacular 30-metre run before putting his shot across the face of goal.

The crowd easily bettered the previous crowd record for an Australian club match of 43,242 - set at the 2000 National Soccer League grand final in Perth.

It is also the highest A-League attendance ever - surpassing the 41,689 at last season's grand final at Aussie Stadium in Sydney.

Both Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick and Sydney FC counterpart Terry Butcher were pleased with the result, though Adelaide could move equal with Sydney FC in second place if it beats lowly New Zealand on Sunday.

But it was the crowd - easily the closest thing ever seen in Australian club soccer to European or South American-style football fanaticism - which left all involved in the match in awe.

"You'd do well to find an Australian abroad this weekend who'll play in front of a bigger crowd than that," Victory skipper Kevin Muscat said.

"It was great out there - it was unfortunate we couldn't break the deadlock. We did try, we did push, we tried our hardest to get the crowd a goal."

Sydney FC skipper Mark Rudan, who played in the dying days of the old NSL, felt the size of the crowd was a statement of how big an impact the A-League has had in Australian soccer.

"It was something special tonight," Rudan said.

"We should rejoice about it - all the football lovers in this country. I've been playing for a long time, playing in front of 500 sometimes, in front of 5,000 sometimes.

"Now we've got 50,000. I was playing when the chips were down - it was pretty bad the old NSL.

"Now the A-League's here - and that (attracting crowds like this match) is what it's all about."

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