Retre strikes twice as Sydney FC set best ever Hyundai A-League home winning streak
Paulo Retre hit a double as Sydney FC edged past Adelaide United, 2-1, in the Sky Blues’ record-smashing 10th straight Hyundai A-League home win.
With marquee man Milos Ninkovic handed a rest, Retre stepped into an unlikely starring role and grabbed two goals in the space of six first-half minutes as the runaway leaders once again rewrote the competition’s history books.
The utility player had only scored once in 50 Hyundai A-League matches in Sky Blue prior to Saturday’s clash but the 26-year-old showed his quality two days after signing a two-year extension with a pair of composed finishes.
The Reds had lost three out of four matches since talisman Riley McGree succumbed to a knee injury in Round 8 and the returning 21-year-old gave Sydney a scare by pulling a goal back on the brink of half-time.
Jordan Elsey spurned a gilt-edge chance to level the scores in a subdued second-half as Steve Corica’s side held on to keep up their record of winning every Hyundai A-League match they have ever played at at Netsrata Jubilee Stadium.
Twenty-year-old Harry Van der Saag made a solid first start for Sky Blues with Rhyan Grant suspended but Corica’s squad will be further stretched as Luke Brattan’s yellow card means he will miss next week’s clash against Newcastle Jets.
All of the stats pointed to Sydney being strong favourites but the Reds came out flying when Ryan Strain, who has never scored in his 48 appearances, rattled the post from 25 yards, before George Blackwood headed past Sky Blues goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne but the goal was ruled out for offside.
The tide turned in the Sky Blues favour after 10 minutes when Kosta Barbarouses showed an outstanding first touch from Brattan’s precise pass, but not such a smooth second touch as Paul Izzo denied the Kiwi with an outstretched foot.
The Champions began to run riot as Izzo dived full-length to save from Brattan and Alexander Baumjohann fired over, before Barbarouses was denied again from close-range and Elsey reacted athletically to turn Adam Le Fondre’s point-blank header on to the Adelaide crossbar.
The pressure paid on 20 minutes when Van der Saag saw his header pushed out by Izzo before Retre volleyed in the rebound, and the versatile midfielder made it two from Barbarouses’ deft touch on 26 minutes after Baumjohann left Reds left-back Michael Maria on his backside.
Sydney’s second goal woke up the visitors and McGree made a goalscoring return, poking James Troisi’s in-swinging free-kick past Redmayne to net his seventh of the campaign, before Troisi skewed a chance wide with the Champions rattled before half-time.
Verbeek’s side came out composed in the second half but Elsey spurned their best chance, an open goal from six yards on 68 minutes. Sky Blues debutant Jordi Swibel almost grabbed a debut goal seconds after coming on but Izzo spread himself as Sydney inflicted Adelaide's third straight loss and reclaimed their nine-point advantage at the top of the ladder.
Izzo up to task early for the Reds
An open start to the contest very nearly delivered early dividends for the hosts but Adelaide goalkeeper Paul Izzo was having none of it.
Adam Le Fondre picked out Kosta Barbarouses in a promising position for the Sky Blues – and the All White did well to evade the slide of Jordan Elsey – but his ensuing shot was denied by the extended peg of Izzo.
Retre delivers the opener for the Sky Blues
Izzo was again in the action as the clock approached the 20 minute mark – but there was little he could do to prevent Paulo Retre’s opener.
Harry Van der Saag called up on the Reds gloveman to make a sharp stop with a header from a corner but the ball fell invitingly for Retre to steer in a composed, side-footed volley.
The goal is just the second ever for Retre in Sydney colours in the Hyundai A-League.
Retre steps up again for Sydney
When it rains, it pours – and so it proved for Retre as he doubled his tally just six minutes later for the hosts.
Teed up at the top of the penalty area on the back of smart build-up from Alex Baumjohann and Barbarouses, the midfielder steered in a well-placed low strike that evaded the traffic and caught Izzo flat-footed.
The surprise was evident in the celebration, with the goal marking the first time Retre has scored a brace in the Hyundai A-League.
McGree pulls one back for Adelaide
Just as it seemed it would be one-way traffic, the visitors were on the scoresheet in the 39th minute through a set-piece.
A pin-point, dropping free-kick from James Troisi provided the set-up as a host of red shirts attacked the ball behind the Sydney defence, but it was Riley McGree that got the telling touch with a no-nonsense, side-footed finish at close range.
Elsey spurns golden chance to level
It was the opportunity that Adelaide had been waiting for but it perhaps fell to the wrong Reds player.
Andrew Redmayne failed to gather a loose ball after James Troisi's corner caused chaos in the Sky Blues penalty box and his net was left completely unguarded.
Then, with the goal at his mercy, Jordan Elsey inexplicably lifted his effort from six yards over the crossbar. The Reds would not have a better chance to equalise that this.
Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC
Friday, 10 January 2020
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick off: 7.30pm AEDT