Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold felt the “big moments” were the difference in a thrilling Big Blue against Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.
In the game of the season so far, the Sky Blues led twice before being overhauled by the champions 4-2 at Allianz Stadium for their first defeat of the season.
“The big moments decided the game. I thought overall the two sides were equal,” Arnold told reporters afterwards.
“At 2-2 we hit the post twice in one phase with [Shane] Smeltz and [Matt] Jurman.
“They go down the other end, [Gui] Finkler has a shot, it’s going about 10 metres wide, cops a deflection and falls straight at the feet of [Kosta] Barbarouses and he scores.
“Those things happen in football. That’s what happened tonight but overall I thought our performance was very good. Our purpose going forward was much more of what I expected.”
Sydney made the perfect start, scoring inside five minutes through Filip Holosko, only for Victory to equalise through Besart Berisha four minutes later.
Skipper Alex Brosque restored the home side’s lead midway through the first half but again the lead was short-lived, with Finkler drawing Victory level soon after.
The contest could have gone either way after the break but the visitors took the points thanks to Barbarouses’ clinical finish and Berisha’s injury-time sealer.
“I told the boys [after the game] if they keep playing like that you won’t lose too many [games],” Arnold said.
“It was a very positive performance. I thought it was a good spectacle, the crowd that turned up got a good game, there were plenty of goals and now hopefully there will be no more ‘boring, boring Sydney’.
“Like last year and all the other years, we get better and better as the season goes,” he added.
“We’ve got young boys that are improving all the time. We’ll get better as the season goes on. We’ve got a lot of quality in this team and I’ve got a lot of belief in what we’ve got.”
Since taking over the Sky Blues at the start of last season, Arnold has yet to beat Victory in five clashes, including last season’s grand final.
Asked if Victory has a psychological advantage over his side, Arnold said: “Not at all.
“[Tonight was] for three points. Victory has got that form at the moment and things are falling for them.
“That will change. It can turn. I look at our performance and look at ourselves. I was very pleased with the style that we played, we created a lot of opportunities, it’s all good.”
Despite the defeat Sydney remains on top of the table for now, with Brisbane Roar having the chance to leapfrog them when they play Perth on Sunday.
The Sky Blues are on the road next week with a clash against Glory at nib Stadium on Saturday night.