Victory deny Sydney minor premiership
Needing to win to have any chance of snatching the league title on the final day of the regular season, Sydney led 1-0 early and 2-1 with 15 minutes to go, but failed to hold on as the Victory extended their unbeaten streak against their bitter rivals to six games.
Not only ending their hopes of the minor premiership, the draw also means Sydney slips out of the top two and will go into the finals next week playing for survival in a two-legged elimination semi.
A league-wide season-high crowd of 33,458 turned up for the blockbuster which more than lived up to its billing.
Steve Corica gave Sydney the lead after just three minutes with a superb run and finish before a Mark Milligan own goal evened the ledger 26 seconds into the second half.
Alex Brosque regained the lead for Sydney with a well-crafted turn and strike in the 61st minute.
But just when Sydney looked to have ended their Melbourne hoodoo, Danny Allsopp stuck a dagger in the heart of the blues' minor premiership hopes with a classic Victory goal - featuring both Carlos Hernandez and Archie Thompson - in the 76th minute.
Sydney had a penalty shout turned down in the 82nd after fiery Victory skipper Kevin Muscat tangled with substitute Brendon Santalab in the box and had another great chance denied by some desperate Melbourne defence in stoppage time.
Despite conceding two goals, teenage Victory 'keeper Mitchell Langerak did well in the second half to deny Sydney the winner.
While missing out on the league title and a top two finish, Sydney will still fancy their chances of making the preliminary final after extending their unbeaten run to five games.
They have lost just once in 12 games since John Kosmina took charge and have done wonderfully well to make the finals after being mired in sixth place following the sacking of Branko Culina.
For the Victory, the entertaining draw ended a largely disappointing championship defence.
They had won three in a row prior to Sunday - and at the very least should begin their Asian Champions League campaign with some confidence in March - but left their finals run well too late after a streak of nine games without a win in the second half of the season.