The 16th A-League Grand Final certainly didn’t disappoint for memorable player performances.
Hosts Melbourne City were too well-drilled for their opponents, dominating throughout and almost totally nullifying Sydney’s fearsome attacking triumvirate.
However, all four goals primarily came through pieces of individual brilliance.
And how did each individual perform?
Kick360 has been watching the replay on repeat since last night and assessed each player, rating their performances out of 10.
Tom Glover: 5
The Olyroos keeper got away with dallying on the ball early and was lucky Bobô pressed with slightly less intensity than was needed. Possibly too close to his line for the goal, but not many keepers would’ve saved it anyway. Didn’t face a shot on target following the goal.
Scott Galloway: 9
Superb presence of mind to see the opening and then execute the finish for the Championship-sealer. Constantly bombed down the right and would’ve had a first-half assist if it weren’t for a missed simple header. A near-perfect performance for an attack-minded full-back.
Nuno Reis: 9
Fiery. Made some sloppy fouls early but showed his great ball-playing ability throughout, hitting more than 90 percent of his match-leading 104 passes. Pressed at all the right times and was impenetrable when called upon.
Rostyn Griffiths: 7
Very solid at the back, leading his team with five clearances – four more than anyone else. Many of his 94 passes went 10 metres to his right to defensive counterpart Nuno Reis. Did everything he needed to do perfectly well.
Scott Jamieson: 8
Sydney’s reliance on peppering his wing didn’t amount to anything due to his defensive reliability. Swung in some wayward crosses, but magnificent apart from that. Took the penalty superbly to score just his fifth A-League goal. Nailed the speech too.
Florin Berenguer: 7
Missed an easy header in the first half, but flawless afterwards. Dictated the tempo well and showed his experience with calm decision-making.
Aiden O’Neill: 7
Provided good defensive cover when needed and played some nice balls to impose a different rhythm on the game. Could’ve worked harder defensively for the Sydney goal though.
Adrián Luna: 7
Involved in some neat one-twos and did well to force a penalty that not many others would’ve. Missed a golden opportunity to seal the win early in the second half, with his weak pass bobbling directly to defender Joel King’s feet.
Stefan Colakovski: 8
Showed his magnificent ball control when he infiltrated every one of Sydney FC’s bafflingly bad defensive lines. Worked hard all night and nearly scored with a sumptuous chest and volley. The standing ovation he received when substituted was a great moment.
Nathaniel Atkinson: 9
Very astute finish for the first goal. Showed composure on the ball, saw the near-post opening and hit the perfect spot. Played a clever pass that led to the penalty foul and created six chances through a mixture of skill and creativity – double any other player on the pitch. Deservingly became the youngest Joe Marston medalist since Mat Ryan in 2011.
Marco Tilio: 9
So lovely to watch, but his great bodywork to let Colakovski run to assist the equaliser and a “biomechanically miraculous” act of determination showed he’s not all flashy tricks. A huge day for City in the present, but his performance emphasised the excitement for the future. Seems absurd to think none of City’s Grand Final-winning front three will likely be first-choice come next season.
Andrew Nabbout: 7
Entered with 16 minutes remaining and did what was asked of him. Offered physicality, direct running and a few shots towards goal. Gave Sydney’s defenders another City option to worry about.
Thomas Heward-Belle: 7
Not even the first-choice Andrew Redmayne could’ve stopped any of the three goals. Had more touches than seven of his teammates and kept Sydney in the game with some second-half saves, but could’ve been better distribution-wise.
Paulo Retre: 6
Made numerous errors early, but improved as the game went on. Moved into midfield following the red card and looked more assured in his positioning.
Alex Wilkinson: 8
Was a calming presence in a defence under siege. Constantly teed up his midfield teammates to start counter-attacks that ended before they started due to the City swarm. Led all comers for clearances, with six.
Ben Warland: 7
Lost his footing for the inconsequential final goal, but was not the cause of many Sky Blue problems. Looked comfortable throughout.
Joel King: 5
Caught too deep for Atkinson’s goal and could’ve done better to block the near-post shot. Held off City’s menacing wide players fairly well after that, but offered nothing in his side’s rare moments in possession.
Anthony Caceres: 7
Pulled out of a challenge just before Colakovski laid off Atkinson, then gave away a penalty that could’ve gone either way. Didn’t offer much offensively, but was excellent in all of his game-leading five tackles. Substituted for Patrick Wood for Sydney to offer more in attack late, but the relentless City pressure didn’t subside.
Luke Brattan: 4
Brilliant until he wasn’t. Composure on the ball was the highlight of his fourth Grand Final appearance before the Sky Blues’ opener. Didn’t work hard enough to track back for the equaliser, then two reckless challenges saw him sent off in the 35th minute.
Kosta Barbarouses: 7
Despite the slip taking away from its aesthetic beauty, his 21st-minute goal was one of the best any Grand Final has seen. Totally nullified after that.
Alexander Baumjohann: 6
A great jinky run and pass to assist Barbarouses. Apart from that, did nothing to improve his team’s lacklustre attacking performance. Made way for Ninković in the 72nd minute.
Adam Le Fondre: 6
Worked hard to press all night and made some clever runs. Completely anonymous in attack, but it’s hard to lay the blame on him when he was largely absent in the contest.
Largely invisible. Could’ve pressed Glover a tad harder to force a goal, and was later fouled in the lead-up to the opener. Was replaced by Harry Van der Saag following Brattan’s send-off.
Harry Van der Saag: 7
Came on as a right-back and did exactly what was needed. Fought hard for loose balls and positioned himself exceptionally well.
Miloš Ninković: 5
Replaced the Baumjohann with 18 minutes remaining but had no impact whatsoever.
Patrick Wood: N/A
Came on for Caceres and played four minutes.
Image Supplied: Melbourne City/Aleksander Jason