Sky Blues relentless in comeback win over Victory
Sydney FC are Big Blue winners once again after their impressive come-from-behind 4-1 win over Melbourne Victory at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
They conceded the opener to a fantastic Marco Rojas strike in the fifth minute of play but from that moment on Sydney clicked into gear, equalising before the half-time break before piling on three goals in the second stanza to stroll to a convincing win.
The evening started so well for the home fans at Marvel Stadium when Rojas drove a dagger through the heart of Sydney's defence with a brilliant solo run and goal on five minutes.
Anthony Caceres failed to level the scores soon after before Victory began to tighten the clamps, forging chances through Ola Toivonen and Rojas which were spurned from close range.
Ryan McGowan almost helped Victory to a second with a cheap turnover which Elvis Kamsoba collected but the diminutive attacker couldn't turn the chance into a goal, and only moments later both he and the hosts were made to pay down the other end when Milos Ninkovic levelled the scores with a classy collect and finish.
The Sky Blues emerged from half time buoyed by their equalising goal and almost went ahead through a second Ninkovic goal if not for a superb stop by Lawrence Thomas with an outstretched right leg from the Serbian's close-range header.
But Sydney's relentless pressure caused the hosts to finally buckle and ship two goals within a matter of minutes to turn the game on its head.
Caceres put the visitors into the lead on 64 minutes with a wicked curling strike off his left peg, and just two minutes later Adam le Fondre made it 3-1 with a poked shot which lobbed Thomas and bounced towards the goal line where Giancarlo Gallifuoco failed to clear, instead helping the ball on its way into his own net.
Suddenly the Sky Blues were in possession of a two-goal lead but they weren't done there; substitute Trent Buhagiar came off the bench to single-handedly beat five Victory players and win a penalty after Tim Hoogland dragged him down in the box.
Hoogland received a red card for the challenge and despite Victory's passionate objections the card and penalty stood, and former Victory man Kosta Barbarouses stepped up to the spot to dispatch the ball into the net and secure a 4-1 win for the Sky Blues.
The win ensured Sydney quickly bounced back from their 1-0 defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers in Round 21, while Victory trudged away from Marvel Stadium with hopes of a berth in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series fading into the distance.
Rojas nutmegs Wilkinson and buries a beauty
Storm Roux's tackle on Milos Ninkovic on Sydney's left flank sent the ball directly into the path of Rojas who then turned to attack Sydney's defensive line.
Alex Wilkinson tried to put an end to his darting run as it began to pick up pace but Rojas poked the ball through the legs of the Sky Blues defender, sized up Andrew Redmayne in goal and curled a strike into the roof of the net to open the scoring in style.
Ninkovic puts Roux on skates to score the leveller
Just moments after Victory squandered an enormous chance to go two ahead the Sky Blues bombed down the other end to notch an equaliser.
A tussle between Adam le Fondre and James Donachie resulted in the ball spilling to Barbarouses; Sydney's number 11 played Ninkovic in on goal who feinted a shot, sent Roux to the deck and rolled a curling effort past Thomas into the back of the net.
Thomas stands tall to deny Ninkovic a second
Sydney FC looked far more likely to take the lead in the second half and if not for a brilliant reflex save from Victory's custodian they would have done just that 10 minutes into the second stanza.
Rhyan Grant picked out Ninkovic's head with a venomous cross into the box and the Serbian's ensuing header seemed certain to pierce Victory's goal but Thomas stuck his right leg into the path of the ball to somehow kept his side on level terms.
Caceres stunner puts Sydney ahead
Allowed far too much space on the edge of the box by Elvis Kamsoba, Caceres turned to his left and drove across goal before guiding a curled left-footed strike off the left upright and into the back of the net.
The goal out of nowhere rewarded the Sky Blues for their upbeat start to the second half while handing them a 2-1 lead.
Sydney hit Victory with the one-two punch
They had just taken the lead but Sydney FC weren't prepared to stop at that.
Instead they marauded forward once more through Grant who burst past Leigh Broxham and laid the ball wide to le Fondre; Sydney's star striker prodded the ball over the outrushing Thomas.
As the ball crept towards the line Gallifuoco arrived to try snuff out the danger but ended up helping the ball along on its journey into the back of the net.
Barbarouses puts the final nail in Victory's coffin
Sydney FC substitute Buhagiar put on an individual moment of brilliance when he turned a number of Victory players inside out, drove toward goal and ultimately won his side a penalty after Hoogland pulled him down in the box.
The hosts protested the penalty call but VAR upheld the decision, and Barbarouses stepped forward to hammer home the spot kick and hand his former side a crushing 4-1 loss on their home deck.
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory
Sunday, 15 March
Kick off: 6.20pm local, 4.20pm AEDT
Sydney FC v Perth Glory
Saturday, 14 March
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick off: 5pm AEDT