Sky Blues fire warning to top-six rivals with 4-1 win over Reds
Sydney FC sent Finals Series aspirants around the league a timely reminder of their quality by notching a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Saturday night.
The Reds came into the Matchweek 23 contest with the chance to draw level on 41 points with the second-placed Sky Blues but the visiting team blew Adelaide out of the water, taking a 1-0 lead to half time before piling three more goals on in the second 45.
Adam Le Fondre was at the double with a goal on either side of half-time to make it 2-0 before turning provider for Bobô's simple finish with 58 minutes on the clock, which was initially ruled out for an offside call on Le Fondre before VAR reversed the decision on the ground.
Patrick Wood replaced Le Fondre in the 70th minute and scored his fourth goal of the season just one minute later, feasting on an Adelaide outfit reduced to ten men just beyond the hour mark after Jordan Elsey collected his second yellow card of the evening.
A late consolation goal came from Reds substitute Yaya Dukuly, who finished off a neat team move created by a chain of one-touch passes to net his first A-League goal and deprive the visitors of a clean sheet.
But Steve Corica's side happily walked away from Coopers Stadium with three points in the bag, leaving Adelaide in the congested pile up of sides from fourth to eighth clambering for ascendancy on the A-League table.
Le Fondre got the visitors ahead with six minutes on the clock, rising high over Reds defender Ryan Strain to send a well-placed header past James Delianov to rustle the back of the net.
Rhyan Grant was the provider with a cross played off the right flank. Luke Brattan did well to wrestle possession in midfield and fling the ball into Grant's path whilst falling under contact. Grant looked up, spotted the run and played the ball in for Le Fondre to attack, who jumped above Strain to hand the Sky Blues a 1-0 lead.
The Sydney FC forward failed to make it two with a near-identical chance in the 22nd minute.
This time it was Brattan delivering for Le Fondre from a free-kick out wide. Le Fondre got ahead of Michael Jakobsen who gave chase to dispatch an unmarked header on goal, but the effort lacked the accuracy to trouble Delianov as it floated over the bar.
Kosta Barbarouses offered Bobô his first chance of the night with a cut-back cross floated toward the penalty spot which the Brazilian had to fall backwards to meet with his head before Le Fondre got involved once more, collecting off a deflection in Adelaide's defensive box to shoot toward a goal unguarded by Delianov.
The careful shot was placed on target but a lunging block from Ryan Kitto sent the ball wide of the mark for a Sydney corner.
A two-footed challenge from Elsey on Bobô in the 41st minute of play earned the Adelaide defender a yellow card - but the Sky Blues were adamant the home side should have been reduced to ten men after Elsey left the ground to challenge for the ball.
Brattan curled the resulting free-kick over the bar before Craig Goodwin - who went largely unsighted throughout the first half - produced his side's best chance of the first 45 with a shot from a narrow angle which Andrew Redmayne saved with ease.
Adelaide struck the woodwork early in the second half with a Stefan Mauk half-volley which the midfielder whipped off the outside of his boot whilst facing away from goal to send it toward the bottom-right corner.
Kitto supplied the delivery which Mauk diverted on target; the spinning ball bounced off the post and back toward a dangerous area, which two players from each side darted toward - with Ryan McGowan getting the all-important touch to send it out for a Reds corner.
Just two minutes later, Le Fondre made Adelaide pay. A second goal was to come off the Englishman's boot after Barbarouses fed Bobô in to face Delianov in a one-on-one. The Reds 'keeper blocked the initial shot but sent the ball into Le Fondre's path who arrived to provide the calm finish.
Bobô proceeded to make it three before the hour mark with a simple finish which was initially ruled offside, with Le Fondre initially seen in an illegal position before firing the cross to Bobô lurking in the box.
But a VAR check reversed the call on the Sky Blues striker, who was kept onside by Kitto's back leg as he got in behind Adelaide's defensive line.
Adelaide's night went from bad to worse four minutes later when Elsey received his second yellow card of the night.
A Barbarouses interception sent the away side on a rapid counter attack, and as Le Fondre looked to get beyond Elsey the Reds defender dragged him down, leaving referee Daniel Elder the simple decision to produce the second yellow and reduce the home side to ten.
Wood replaced Le Fondre in the 70th minute to turn the Sky Blues' commanding lead into an imperious four-goal advantage just one minute after coming on for the away side.
Collecting the ball in the box on the turn from Miloš Ninković, the 18-year-old dribbled off the left-hand side of the penalty box towards a central position before sneaking his shot past Delianov to spark manic celebrations between Sydney's outfield players and substitutes by the corner flag.
After a Sydney substitute made it 4-0, Dukuly emerged off Carl Veart's bench to do the same in the 89th minute to ensure the hosts took a consolation goal from the disappointing defeat.
A rare defensive lapse from the Sky Blues offered Adelaide the chance to find the way through, as Jakobsen won the ball back from a failed clearance to feed Pacifique Niyongabire, who began a chain of first-touch passes between himself, Michael Marrone and Dukuly who applied the calm finish.
Adelaide United v Western Sydney Wanderers
Thursday, June 3 2021
Kick-off: 7.35pm AEST
Brisbane Roar v Sydney FC
Saturday, June 5 2021
Moreton Daily Stadium
Kick-off: 3.05pm AEST
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