Hat-trick hero Adam Le Fondre showed his killer instincts as Sydney FC ran rampant in a 5-1 mauling of Brisbane Roar.
The English marksman made it eight goals in his last five Hyundai A-League matches, and 10 for the season, with a clinical first-half double and a late header as the Champions tore Robbie Fowler’s side to shreds at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
Milos Ninkovic joined the party with a goal on his return as Steve Corica’s forward quartet delivered a sensational display of free-flowing football, with Kosta Barbarouses recording two assists and German technician Alex Baumjohann the chief tormentor.
With the game effectively over at half-time, the Champions added a fourth late on as substitute Trent Buhagiar netted his first goal since returning from injury. The 21-year-old was sidelined for a whole season after having surgery on a knee ligament tear.
Le Fondre put the exclamation mark on the contest when he completed his first Hyundai A-League treble from Buhagiar's well-weighted cross as the Sky Blues racked up their fifth straight win and seventh from eight matches, making it their best ever start to a Hyundai A-League season.
Roy O'Donovan's late penalty was scant consolation. Fowler’s Roar are the only Hyundai A-League side without a first-half goal and they continue to chase a maiden away win of the campaign, but the Queenslanders could not compete as Corica’s side destroyed their hopes in the first half hour.
The Sky Blues wasted no time in taking the game to Fowler’s side and they opened the floodgates after seven minutes. Baumjohann dissected the Roar defence to find Barbarouses and Le Fondre added a lethal close-range finish after a fortuitous deflection off Macaulay Gillesphey landed in his path.
The German playmaker was cutting Brisbane to shreds, setting Rhyan Grant away on the right two minutes later as Jamie Young’s outstretched feet denied Le Fondre a quick-fire double, before Dylan Wenzel-Halls saw his effort saved in a rare foray forward by the visitors.
Baumjohann delivered another masterful pass to send Le Fondre through on goal in the 12th minute but the Englishman’s crisp finish was chalked off for offside as Roar desperately scrambled to get a foothold in the game.
The Sky Blues’ front four were producing a virtuoso performance as Barbarouses came close on 22 minutes and Ninkovic added the finish to another slick move that was conducted by Baumjohann. Barbarouses was denied again shortly afterwards after volleying Le Fondre’s delicate chip straight at Roar gloveman Young.
Le Fondre finally doubled his tally on 41 minutes, making a tough strike look easy, with a clinical finish after Grant and Barbarouses combined, ensuring the second half would be plain sailing for the Harbour City side.
Fowler made a double switch at half-time as he aimed to shake-up his beleaguered side, but the Sky Blues proved to be a cut above. Buhagiar came on in the 85th minute to add a goal on the counter and an assist for Le Fondre's hat-trick. O'Donovan grabbed a consolation from the penalty spot when Ryan Teague, who came on to make his Hyundai A-League debut, tripped Mauk in the 93rd minute.
Le Fondre hits his mark early
The Sky Blues wanted to set the tone early and had their reward before some supporters had found their seats through red-hot striker Adam Le Fondre.
The Englishman pounced on a deflected squaring ball from Kosta Barbarouses to tuck away the opener, but it was the vision and delivery from Milos Ninkovic in the build-up that drew the plaudits.
But Le Fondre did not care as he netted his eighth of the campaign to move just one goal shy of Jamie Maclaren in top spot in the Golden Boot race.
Ninkovic doubles the advantage
The cutting edge of the Sky Blues' movement in the final third was on show again and they doubled their lead in the 25th minute.
This time Alexander Baumjohann picked out Barbarouses with a defence-splitting pass to enable the Kiwi international to square up for his teammates in the box.
This time there would be no deflection to blame for Fowler’s men as the ball found its way cleanly to Ninkovic to bang home a first-time finish.
Kosta and Alfie at it again
Just before the break and the Roar defence was cut to pieces yet again.
A lobbed ball from Grant found the run from Barbarouses in behind and an intuitive cut back teed up Le Fondre at the top of the box to guide the ball in with a stunning first-time finish.
The goal moved Le Fondre to equal top of the Hyundai A-League scoring charts.
Buhagiar gets in on the act
With the Sky Blues sitting pretty on their lead with time winding down it seemed they would see out the result – but substitute Trent Buhagiar had other ideas.
Just seconds after entering the contest, the speedy attacker slotted home a fourth for the hosts on the back of a flying foray down the right flank, assisted by Baumjohann.
A VAR review for offside ensued but all it did was highlight the silky Sydney movement.
Le Fondre seals his treble
Buhagiar continued his cameo role with an assist soon after – serving it up on a plate for Le Fondre to wrap up his hat-trick.
The substitute’s floated ball to the back post found the delayed run of the English marksman to convert with a stooping header past a flat-footed Young.
The goal sees Le Fondre become the first to reach double digits this season and sending him outright top of the Golden Boot race.
Sydney FC are back at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Round 10, hosting the Central Coast Mariners. The match, on Saturday, 14 December, kicks off at 7.30pm AEDT.
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Find out more at the Match Centre here
Brisbane Roar are back at Suncorp Stadium, facing Western United for the first time, in Round 10. The match on Friday, 13 December kicks off at 6.30pm local, 7.30pm AEDT.
Get your tickets here
Find out more at the Match Centre here
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