Sydney FC celebrating Madison Haley's first goal in the blue uniform. (Photo: Sydney FC)

New transfer Madison Haley has led the Sky Blues to a dominant win in her debut appearance in the Liberty A-League.

Sydney FC has exacted their revenge on inter-state rivals Melbourne Victory, winning 2-0 in what was the first time both teams have faced off against each other since the 2022 Grand Final. The Sky Blues pulled out an authoritative victory in front of their home fans at Cromer Park.

After finishing first at the end of the regular season last year, Sydney came face-to-face with Melbourne Victory in the final. However, it was Victory who had the last laugh winning the game and becoming the 2022 champions.

Now a new season, the Sky Blues eyed revenge against the team that beat them in the final.

From the opening kick-off, the game was all Sydney FC. Keeping the ball in their attacking half for most of the game, especially in the first half, they ran all over their opponents from start to finish.

The impressive attacking performance was led by debutante Madison Haley. Nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’, Haley took the game into her hands. After gifting magnificent through balls and passes to her fellow teammates, she decided to do it on her own. Her opening goal was pure brilliance.

Leaping onto a failed Melbourne pass, she dribbled past the opposing defenders and Casey Dumont in goal, before slotting the ball into the top right corner.

“It’s super exciting to get my first goal. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to and hopefully, I can just keep kicking off from here,” Haley said.

Joining the team from the United States during the transfer window, she has shown attacking skill, composure and versatility to start the season. The home fans applauded the goal-scorer when she came off the field, a memory the Stanford graduate will never forget.

“It was really nice coming off the field and getting serenaded. It’s just really fun and I’m super glad we were able to get the win and everyone’s having a great time,” the former Stanford player said.

“Everyone’s having a great time and they’re getting their signatures and all the kids are out. That’s what it’s about,” she continued.

Melbourne Victory won’t be pleased about their performance. After a surprise defeat against new club Western United, they weren’t expecting a repeat performance.

Speaking to The Inner Sanctum post-match, Tiffany Eliadis summed up their performance in two words, “pretty disappointing.”

“We were pretty fired up before the game. The girls were nervous and excited to be out on the pitch, but losing Zim [Catherine Zimmerman] was massive,” Eliadis said.

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The American soccer forward was a big part of last season’s Grand Final before she went down with an injury within the first 25 minutes of the game. With Zimmerman being a main point of their attack, they struggled to create opportunities in their attacking half.

As she left the field the news didn’t get any better for Melbourne Victory fans, with early reports indicating that Zimmerman has broken her leg and will be out for an extended period.

Even though they lost the game, Tiffany Eliads believed their were still positives they could takeaway from the game.

“Despite us copping to goals early on, we definitely fought to the end. There wasn’t any bickering or anything like that because we were 2-0 down,” Eliadis continued.

One of the best players on the pitch came from the Melbourne Victory line-up. Just like last years Grand Final, Casey Dumont was inspirational in goal. She denied several Sydney shots, which included two one-on-one battles with Courtnee Vine.

If Dumont wasn’t in goal, the end scoreline would have produced a much different result.

Next week, Sydney FC will go up against the Western Sydney Wanderers in the first Sydney derby of the year. While still looking for their first win, defending champions Melbourne Victory will face the last-place Wellington Phoenix, with both teams looking to earn their first points of the season.

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