Sydney edge brave Melbourne
Sydney FC’s star import Megan Rapinoe enjoyed a fairytale finish to her brief Westfield W-League stint, scoring the winner seven minutes from full time as the premiers edged Melbourne Victory 2-1 at Leichhardt Oval.
Melbourne had appeared set to earn a share of the points after Jodie Taylor had drawn the teams level from the penalty spot, following Kylie Ledbrook’s early goal.
It was a far cry from the last time the two teams met when the Sky Blues trounced the Victory 5-1 in last season’s semi-final.
The Victory’s hopes of holding their opponents were dealt an early blow on nine minutes as Ledbrook curled in a smart finish from the edge of the penalty area, after the Sky Blues midfielder was allowed too much space from a short corner.
Rapinoe tried an audacious lob with a free-kick from distance with Victory goalkeeper Brianna Davey relieved to see the ball narrowly clear the roof of the net.
The USA midfielder was at it again cracking the crossbar with a stunning long-range free-kick, an effort that would have been a candidate for goal of the season if it had hit the back of the net.
Victory were defending stoutly but making few inroads in attack only for striker Jodie Taylor to spring to life on the half hour mark. Twice the Victory’s English skipper had the ball taken off her feet in the penalty area as she was set to pull the trigger.
At the other end, Rapinoe appeared to be in the mood after a relatively muted first half last week. In her second and final match for the Sky Blues, Rapinoe remained a constant threat and powered a header inches the wrong side of the post.
Rapinoe then turned provider releasing Sarah Walsh who fired just wide as Sydney finished the opening half with a wet sail.
The second half commenced in more even fashion and Taylor seemed set to equalise after a defence splitting pass from midfield, only for the ball to run over the byline as attempted to round goalkeeper Allison Lipsher.
The Victory though were not to be denied and they duly restored parity just past the hour mark after Caitlin Friend was brought down in the penalty area, with Taylor comfortably converting from the spot.
Rapinoe though had the last say, however, showing her class and determination to get to a loose ball in the penalty area and lift her shot past Davey for a classy finish.
The last play of the match saw Taylor again break free only to push her shot wide of the post with only Lipsher to beat.
Sydney FC 2 (Ledbrook 9, Rapinoe 83)
Melbourne Victory 1 (Taylor 63p)