Sydney FC has defied fatigue and the collective wisdom of the pundits to secure its second win of the season against Melbourne City at AAMI Park.
In something of a managerial masterstroke, the visitors reigned supreme in a convincing 3-0 victory. Sydney mentor Steve Corica had his team well and truly ready for battle despite a busy schedule and an emotional flat spot that seemed likely.
After a 2-0 Derby win against the Wanderers in Sydney last weekend, Tuesday’s FFA Cup final saw the first piece of silverware of the new season up for grabs. It was a quick turnaround for both Sydney and new cup champions Adelaide United, yet the Sky Blues unfortunately drew the short straw with Friday nights A-League clash against City its third match in six days.
With Trent Buhagiar already sidelined for an extended period and Siem de Jong also on the pine thanks to an irritating and minor hamstring tear, Corica’s options were limited, with the bulk of team taking to the pitch for their fourth hour of football in under a week.
It was a daunting prospect, particularly for senior members of the squad such as Alex Brosque and Alex Wilkinson. Both men will have their workloads increasingly managed as they creep ever closer to their late thirties yet without too many first team options, they were called upon for another superhuman effort on Friday night.
The duo rose like the champions they are and their actions inspired team mates, leading to Sydney’s most polished and professional effort of the season thus far. It was a match of one way traffic from go to whoa and Melbourne City never left first gear, in what was a poor display.
Sydney stifled and managed any minor threat the home side did present. Rhyan Grant showed signs of returning to his hustling and bustling best, Brandon O’Neill and Josh Brillante led the Sydney press that restricted opposition time on the ball in midfield and Michael Zullo was back to his busy self.
However, it was a man slightly further forward who was the star for Sydney, as 25 year old Paulo Retre came of age in Sky Blue kit. Playing against his former club, Retre was dynamic and had a night out that included a goal of his own to open the scoring in the 16th minute and the most sublime of touches for Sydney’s second goal.
In a deft and subtle exchange of passing, Adam le Fondre converted the sequence for his third goal in as many matches when Retre teed him up perfectly in the 61st minute. Sadly for City, the Englishman was not done and topped of a glorious night for the visitors with an injury time goal that took his season tally to four.
From the opening moments it was apparent that Sydney had brought an intensity and enthusiasm that was subsequently never matched by City and the 3-0 final score line might have been stretched even further had the visitors converted some first half chances that slipped by.
Most pleasing for Corica will be the performance of his little maestro Milos Ninkovic who, along with Brosque, pulled the strings up top and kept the City defence under pressure throughout the entire contest.
There we no poor performers for the Sky Blues on the night and as the players enjoy a decent rest over the weekend, the remaining A-League clubs will seek to take points and keep pace with them on the table.
Next week sees Sydney travel to Newcastle for a tough encounter with the improving Jets. After Friday nights effort at AAMI Park, the Sky Blues will no doubt enter the match as firm favourites, with le Fondre’s scoring touch and busyness ahead of the play makers starting to look ominous for the entire A-League.
Melbourne City 0 Sydney FC 3