Mon, Apr 23, 11:42am by Staff Writer
The first week of the 2017-18 A-League finals was full of highlights and draw in both matches, with Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory advanced to the second week.
City were heavy favourites to defeat the Brisbane Roar on Friday night and did so with second half goals to Stefan Mauk and Nick Fitzgerald.
Despite the scores being knotted at half-time, City dominated the second-half and had 58 per cent possession for the game, which included 21 shots at goal to the Roar’s four.
Brisbane hardly troubled City all night and their best chance of advancing was going to be through a penalty shootout.
The win sees City’s outright odds move to $5 with only four teams remaining in the competition and they now face the Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle on Friday night for a place in the A-League Grand Final.
Melbourne Victory did things a little harder than their intra-state rivals with a 2-1 win against Adelaide on Sunday night.
Victory enjoyed the bulk of the possession with 57 per cent of the ball, but managed only nine shots at goal to Adelaide’s 11.
A first-half of missed chances for both teams meant the scores were 0-0 at half-time, but shortly after the restart, Nikola Mileusnic was a shock goal scorer for the Reds, catapulting them into the lead at AAMI Park.
Dutchman Leroy George did not wait long to equalise, just six minutes in fact, before Besart Berisha produced a trademark highlight to win the game for Victory.
An over-the-head bicycle kick from five or so yards out from goal proved to be the decisive goal for Melbourne Victory as they avoided a potential extra-time period with a 2-1 win.
Adelaide was gallant, but their winless run on the road in the finals continues, as they have lost all eight matches on the road.
Melbourne Victory are now $6 to win the A-League, the longest price of any remaining team, due in large part to the fact they are playing competition favourites Sydney FC next weekend.
Sydney FC and the Newcastle Jets both enjoyed a bye this week after finishing the regular season in first and second positions on the table.
Sydney has been the competition favourites all season and their current odds of $1.80 are their longest to win the title in some time.
The Jets are $5 to win the A-League, but face a tricky fixture against Melbourne City who will be desperate to make their first A-League final.
Over 11,000 tickets have already been sold for the match in Newcastle, with a near capacity crowd expected once tickets become available to the general public on Tuesday morning.
Melbourne Victory will pose a tricky test for the Sky Blues who will head into the match as $1.75 favourites, with the Victory $4.30 outsiders for Saturday nights match.
Newcastle Jets will start as slight favourites at $2.55 against Melbourne City who are $2.65 with the draw at $3.40. It would not surprise if either fixture went into extra time or penalties.
A-League Championship Odds – Sportsbet
Sydney FC $1.80
Melbourne City $5
Newcastle Jets $5
Melbourne Victory $6
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