Sydney continue winning form
Sydney FC have kept their hopes of defending the championship alive through a solid 2-0 win over Perth Glory on Saturday evening at nib Stadium.
Sydney FC have maintained their late season charge, keeping their slip hopes of defending the Hyundai A-League championship alive through a solid 2-0 win over Perth Glory on Saturday evening at nib Stadium.
In oppressive, hot and humid conditions, the Sky Blues proved too good for a lethargic Glory side that at times appeared to be going through the motions as a disappointing season that once promised so much, draws to a close.
Sydney, though, still has it all to play for as goals to Nicky Carle, his first since transferring from Crystal Palace, and Bruno Cazarine either side of the break gave them a comfortable win.
The result still sees Sydney sitting in ninth on the league table, but they now have 29 points and are just four points adrift of sixth-placed Melbourne Heart with three games remaining for the Sky Blues and just two for Heart.
In what should set up a thrilling finish to the regular season, Sydney, unbeaten in 2011 so far, play the three teams they are competing against for a finals' position in Wellington, Newcastle and Heart in their last three matches.
"We know our situation," said coach Vitezslav Lavicka. "It is not easy in this moment for us, but mathematically we still we have a chance to reach finals."
"So we still have a motivation, we know that we have tough games away but if we keep this effort, this unity and hard work I think still there's a chance."
His opposite number, Glory interim coach Ian Ferguson, was a study in contrasts.
"I think since I've been here that's probably the worst I've seen us play in a long time," Ferguson declared.
"Look the club's in transition. We've probably dismantled again what we built up 12 weeks ago and we're back to where we were."
In conditions more akin to Singapore than Perth, both sides took to the field in 30-degree heat and a draining 95 per cent humidity as the Western Australian capital braces for Cyclone Bianca's arrival on Sunday.
The Glory had to brace themselves for a Sydney assault in the opening minutes as the visitors created a series of corners, Carle issuing an ominous warning in the sixth when he nodded over the bar from Scott Jamieson's delivery.
The Sky Blues didn't have to wait long to take the lead, however, the opener coming just three minutes later and showing off some sublime passing between Carle and Cazarine.
As Sydney worked their way forward along the left flank, Carle was left unmarked in the middle of the park 40 metres from goal as he received the ball from Jamieson.
Darting forward, Carle and Cazarine produced two one-twos in succession. But the second time Cazarine took the ball, he brilliantly volleyed it up for Carle to nod into the back of the net, his header looping over Tando Velaphi, who'd come marginally off his line.
Perth returned fire through off-target efforts by Jacob Burns and Adriano Pellegrino, although these were little more than half-chances.
Sydney were still enjoying the better chances and in the 28th minute it took a sensational defensive tackle from Josh Mitchell to deny Dimitri Petratos as he bore down on goal.
Perth's best chance came just after the half hour, when Naum Sekulovski lofted a well-weighted cross from the left to the far post, but an unmarked Scott Neville couldn't control his volleyed attempt.
Neville was in the action again six minutes later as he and Petratos challenged for the ball close to goal, the Sydney striker getting a shot away straight at Velaphi, although it appeared Neville had handballed in the area in the build-up.
The Sky Blues came out after the break full of vigour once again and in the 51st minute, central defender Matthew Jurman nodded wide from a Sung-Hwan Byun free kick.
But two minutes later the Sky Blues doubled the advantage. Sung-Hwan sent in a long ball over the defence to Petratos, whose intelligent flick on was converted by Cazarine, who slipped the ball in beneath Velaphi's dive.
The second goal seemed to spark the Glory, who had the better of the final half hour as Fowler fired wide through a crowded penalty area before Todd Howarth sent a longer attempt just over the bar.
In the 67th minute, Perth produced their best chance of the night when Pellegrino's through-ball beat the off-side trap and released Mile Sterjovski through on goal. But one-on-one with Necevski, Sterjovski sent an unconvincing shot wide of the upright instead of blasting home.
Perth Glory 0 Sydney FC 2 (Carle 9, Cazarine 53) Crowd: 5576 at nib Stadium, Perth