‘It has that same feeling of when we won it all’: O’Neill sensing more glory for Sydney FC
Brandon O’Neill had a beaming smile after Sydney FC’s last-ditch win over Melbourne Victory on Saturday night, and it wasn’t all to do with securing three points against one of his side’s fierce rivals.
The Sky Blues had every right to celebrate after Milos Ninkovic’s 93rd-minute goal gave them a priceless 2-1 win at the SCG.
But O’Neill’s grin came from something he was feeling, an emotion he had experienced a couple of seasons ago when the Sky Blues swept all before them to clinch a Premiership-Championship double.
While Sydney FC are coming from behind this time around – still three points behind league-leaders Perth Glory who have a game in hand – the all-action midfielder can sense something special.
“I can’t speak highly of this group of lads, this family that we have,” O’Neill told Fox Sports.
“It has that same feeling when we won it a couple of years ago. I know we’re making our charge late, but better late than never.
O’Neill added: “When we go one down or when things aren’t working out, we have those same characteristics of just digging in and being compact.
“It’s winning those second balls and having the confidence to go forward and know we have the quality to hurt teams.”
It was O’Neill’s quality that hurt Victory on Saturday night, putting in a man-of-the-match display to dominate a midfield battle against the likes of Keisuke Honda, Carl Valeri and Terry Antonis.
The 24-year-old kicked things off in stunning fashion, scoring after just five minutes with another long-range belter with his – supposed weaker – left boot.
Victory hit back soon after through Kosta Barbarouses and the visitors looked to be finishing the stronger with Ola Toivonen and Elvis Kamsoba both going close late on.
But this Sky Blues outfit has built their success of getting things done, one way or another.
And so it proved late on, with Siem de Jong crossing for Ninkovic to pounce, with the aid of a deflection.
REPORT: Late drama as Ninkovic scores late to win Big Blue for Sydney FC
WATCH FOR FREE: How to watch the Hyundai A-League LIVE and FREE
THE RUN HOME: Predicting the Hyundai A-League's final four rounds
The result not only kept the Sky Blues on the tails of Premiership favourites Perth Glory but opened up a four-point gap to Victory in the race for second spot, with just three rounds to play.
“It’s a very important [win] but our boys believe we’ve been the better team in both games we played against [Victory] before this,” Sydney FC boss Steve Corica said.
“They are a good team and we expect to see them again later on [in the finals].
“I’m just pleased with the three points, it gives us a bit of a gap to them now and mentally that’s in their heads now as well.”