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Dec 19, 2009

Profligate Victory held to draw

Melbourne Victory failed to extend their three-point advantage at the top of the A-League after being held to a goalless draw by second placed Sydney today at the Etihad Stadium.

The defending champions dominated the contest but a combination of wasteful shooting and a tight rearguard action from the Sky Blues denied Melbourne captain Kevin Muscat marking his 500th game with a win.

With eight games remaining, Melbourne are still on course to defend the title they won last year, but Sydney will be encouraged by a battling display.

Archie Thompson set the tone after just two minutes as he lashed against the Sydney bar before Leigh Broxham headed the rebound over.

Thompson also hit the side netting twice and headed wide, while Carlos Hernandez failed to trouble Sydney goalkeeper Clint Bolton from two excellent positions.

Thompson's best chance of the first half arrived after 11 minutes but Bolton eventually held the header. Despite Melbourne's dominance Victory goalkeeper Mitch Langerak had to be at his best to deny Sydney's Alex Brosque midway through the first half.

Melbourne's frustration continued in the second half with several chances in the opening 20 minutes with Bolton needing to be at full stretch to deny Matthew Kemp.

Thompson squandered several more chances, while Hernandez failed to find the target before Robbie Kruse was denied by Bolton with 17 minutes remaining.

Brosque headed just wide five minutes later as Sydney enjoyed the best of the closing stages as Steve Corica, Brosque again and Karol Kisel all had chances but failed to test Langerak, who posted a fourth clean sheet in five games since returning to the starting line-up.

At Bluetongue Stadium, Matt McKay struck in stoppage time as Brisbane Roar beat Central Coast Mariners 3-2.

Brisbane fought back from early strikes from Tommy Oar and Sergio Van Dijk as Nicky Travis and Dylan Macallister equalised for the visitors before McKay struck to send the Roar up to fourth.

Oar's 10th-minute curling effort on the turn and a 25-yard strike from Van Dijk, his ninth of the season, 11 minutes later put Brisbane in a seemingly comfortable position.

But an uncharacteristic error from Roar captain Craig Moore following a poor pass from Brisbane goalkeeper Griffin McMaster handed the home side as lifeline 10 minutes before the break as English midfielder Travis capitalised to half the deficit.

And with 14 minutes remaining Mariners substitute Macallister headed home after Alex Wilkinson had turned Travis' corner back into the danger area.

That sparked a frantic finish as Roar substitute Mitch Nichols had a good chance before Oar cleared off the line for the home side.

And in the first minute of added time, McKay fired home from inside the area after the Mariners failed to clear Michael Zullo's floated corner as sixth-placed Central Coast crashed to a third consecutive defeat.

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