Canberra United all but cemented a home semi-final with a thumping win at home
Canberra United sent out a statement of intent ahead of the finals series, storming home to a 5-1 win over Melbourne Victory at McKellar Park.
Rae Dower’s side took a one-goal lead into the break thanks to a penalty from Ashleigh Sykes, and doubled their advantage early in the second half through Yukari Kinga.
However, the Victory immediately responded through captain Christine Nairn, setting up a nervy conclusion to the match.
The home side coped with the sweltering heat the best to finish strongly, as Grace Maher struck in the 75th minute before Sykes and Kinga each found their second in stoppage time.
The game started at a frenetic pace, with both teams looking for inroads behind the opposition defence.
Grace Maher fired an early warning shot from outside the box but was easily met by Bethany Mason-Jones in goal.
Annabel Martin was cautioned in the 22nd minute for a late tackle as Hayley Raso looked to cut into the box from the wing, but United were unable to create anything from the resulting free-kick.
Natasha Dowie had a big chance for Victory in the 28th minute after an air-swing from United defender Emma Checker, but Trudy Burke was on hand to make a strong save low to the ground.
Ashleigh Sykes was brought down by Samantha Johnson in the 39th minute and was awarded a spot kick, which she duly dispatched low past Bethany Mason-Jones.
Raso hit the bar from a cross-turned-shot on the stroke of half-time but Victory escaped once more and the score remained 1-0 at the half.
Kinga doubled United’s lead after 48 minutes with a great strike from outside the box that went in off the crossbar, before Nairn responded almost immediately with a sublime strike from halfway.
Burke was caught off guard in the goalmouth as she fumbled the ball over the line and Victory reduced the lead to one goal.
United controlled much of the following play, determined to score again.
Victory’s defence held firm however, denying clear opportunities and stalling the final pass from United.
United extended their lead in the 75th minute however, as Sykes rounded the keeper before cutting back for Maher to slot home.
And Sykes made it four in stoppage time as Lisa De Vanna sent her through behind the defence with a lovely ball, before Kinga grabbed her second and United’s fifth on a breakaway.
The win all but confirms a home semi final for United thanks to their superior goal difference, but Sydney FC’s clash with Adelaide United tomorrow will decide if Canberra or the Sky Blues finish the season on top of the table.