From ‘darkest day’ to a ray of hope: The win 1532 days in the making

When the final whistle sounded at McKellar Park on Saturday evening – the roar was deafening.

Canberra United had just upset the applecart, shocking Sydney FC 2-1 on their home deck to end a 1532 day wait for a win against the Sky Blues. No wonder the fans inside Canberra’s home ground were absolutely buzzing when the game to a close.

And it was Canberra’s veteran duo who came to the rescue.

Michelle Heyman fired the home side into the lead within minutes, scoring a cracker from long-range, before substitute Rola Badawiya came from the bench to bring the scores level just after half-time.

But the game’s defining moment was saved for veteran Canberra defender Ellie Brush – who rose the highest from a late Grace Maher corner to nod home the winner – in her 140th Liberty A-League game.

The last time the side from the nation’s capital had been Sydney came all the way back in December 2018; a 2-0 win at home thanks to goals from Rhoda Mulaudzi and Matildas defender Karly Roestbakken.

Since then, it was all one way traffic, with Sydney winning four of the next five games (a 0-0 draw in there too) to an aggregate score of 17-0.

In fact, Heyman’s opener was the first time they had scored against Sydney in around a whopping nine hours of football.

The result, in more ways than one is significant, not only due to Canberra’s recent history with Sydney – but given where they were only a fortnight ago.

Njegosh Popovich’s side were battered not once, but twice to the tune of a 5-0 scoreline against bottom-placed Wellington Phoenix and top-placed Western United – with Dub Zone commentator Teo Pellizzeri even labelling their loss to the latter as “one of the darkest days in Canberra’s history”.

Since then, Canberra have recorded consecutive wins, defeating Newcastle Jets 3-0 and now Sydney, keeping them within touching distance of the top four with six games to go – as the gap has now closed to five points due to Melbourne Victory also dropping points in their goalless draw against Brisbane Roar.

And incredibly, Sydney had come in off of an incredible run of form, beating both Victory and second-placed Melbourne City in the run in.

Next up? Back-to-back home games against Western Sydney Wanderers and Adelaide United. For now, the dream of an unlikely finals berth remains alive.

Follow along LIVE as KEEPUP brings you all the goals, highlights, up to date scores and biggest talking points from the Liberty A-League on Saturday.


Western United 2-1 Melbourne City
Venue: AAMI Park

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Brisbane Roar 1-1 Melbourne Victory
Venue: Perry Park

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Canberra United 2-1 Sydney FC
Venue: McKellar Park

MATCH REPORT: The motivation behind Canberra’s historic win