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Melbourne City wins fourth W-League Championship in surreal setting

Photo Courtesy FFA

Surrounded by 30,000 empty, green seats and only a few dozen friends and family at AAMI Park on Saturday, Melbourne City FC defeated Sydney FC, 1-0 to become the first team to lift the W-League Championship four times.

Steph Catley was credited with the goal in the 15th minute, though it was largely the result of Sydney goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe‘s error on a routine cross.

That was the only goal of the match in a game played behind closed doors due to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic which has halted nearly all sports globally. Australia’s soccer leagues — the women’s W-League and men’s A-League — have carried on with matches behind closed doors. The W-League played last week’s semifinals and Saturday’s final behind closed doors in an attempt to finish the season and crown a champion.

The title is Melbourne City’s fourth in five years since debuting in the W-League. Melbourne City is part of City Football Group’s growing global expansion, which includes Manchester City men’s and women’s teams in England, and New York City FC in MLS (USA men’s top flight), among several other club investments. Melbourne City’s men’s and women’s teams are among CFG’s assets.

The 1-0 victory completed an unbeaten and a near-perfect season for Melbourne City, which won the Premiership (regular season) with an 11-0-1 record, finishing nine points clear of crosstown rival Melbourne Victory. Sydney FC was also on the hunt for a fourth W-League Championship in Saturday’s match.

Saturday’s game will likely be the last high-level women’s soccer match for some time. Club and international competitions have been suspended globally. A few hours prior to the W-League Grand Final kickoff, the National Women’s Soccer League announced that its planned April 18 kickoff would be delayed to a date yet unknown.

Nearly a dozen players from Saturday’s match, including Catley and Bledsoe, are expected to take part in the 2020 NWSL season.


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