Canberra United have secured their first point of the Foxtel Y-League season, playing out a hard-fought 2-2 draw with Sydney FC at McKellar Park on Sunday afternoon.
Sydney entered the contest as heavy favourites, but first half goals from Nikola Ujdur and Luca Florez, combined with some resolute defending throughout the match, helped United to a share of the points.
The Sky Blues controlled the tempo early, with Jaiden Kucharski and Marco Tilio looking dangerous up front for the visitors.
But it was the hosts that opened the scoring on 23 minutes in their first foray forward.
Sydney failed to clear a United corner and after a scrap at the top of the area, the ball fell to Ujdur who fired a powerful shot into the bottom corner to put Canberra ahead.
The lead didn’t last for long though, as Kucharski slotted a tidy finish past United goalkeeper Sam Brown at the near post to level the scores after 34 minutes.
Canberra had an opportunity to snatch the lead back within 60 seconds when Florez burst down the right flank and cut back onto his left foot, but his curling strike sailed just wide of the goal.
But Florez wouldn’t miss out a second time, as the speedy striker snuck in behind the Sydney back four and lobbed a bouncing ball over the head of goalkeeper Levi Kaye and into the back of the net, giving the hosts a 2-1 lead at the break.
It took the Sky Blues just four second half minutes to hit back though, with an unmarked Tilio tapping the ball into an open net after Kucharski’s original effort cannoned back off the post.
Both sides had chances to grab the lead in the second stanza, with Florez and Tilio proving to be the most dangerous for their respective teams.
With time ticking away, the visitors threw everything they had at the United defence. But some excellent saves from Brown in between the sticks, and some brilliant one-on-one tackles from Lachlan Griffiths and Badreldin Abbas, ensured Canberra walked away with a well-earned point.
United will look to build on their strong performance when they face the Central Coast Mariners at Pluim Park next Saturday (21st December).
Our player of the match: Luca Florez