Late drama: Ninkovic goal wins Big Blue for Sydney FC
A goal from Milos Ninkovic in the third minute of stoppage time has handed Sydney FC a last-gasp 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory in an absorbing Big Blue at the SCG on Saturday night.
Goals from Brandon O’Neill and Kosta Barbarouses inside the first 16 minutes looked like it would be the story of the match until Ninkovic’s late heroics.
The Serbian was in the right place at the right time to strike from Siem de Jong’s cross, with the shot taking a wicked deflection and trickling over the line.
While the result might be cruel on Victory, it’s huge for the Sky Blues.
They not only move four points ahead of Kevin Muscat’s men in the race for a top-two finish, but they also keep the pressure on league-leaders Perth Glory.
The Sky Blues are now just three points behind Glory, who are yet to play in Round 24 as they take on Central Coast Mariners on Sunday.
Compounding a disappointing night for Victory was a potentially serious knee injury to midfielder Terry Antonis, who collapsed with no one around him and had to be carried from the field.
It was the home side that started the stronger, with Adam Le Fondre hitting the bar with a classy chip inside three minutes before O’Neill gave Sydney FC the lead soon after.
And the midfielder did it all himself, receiving the ball 30 yards out and driving an unstoppable left-foot shot into the top corner.
But their advantage lasted just 10 minutes as Keisuke Honda’s sublime vision and execution led to Victory’s equaliser.
The Japanese legend sliced the Sydney defence open with a well-weighted reverse pass to get Barbarouses in on goal and the Kiwi international’s dinked finish was too good for Andrew Redmayne.
It was Barbarouses’ 14th goal of the campaign – taking him to within one of the Golden Boot summit - and the 10th in his last 11 appearances.
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
REPORT: Jets edge Wanderers in five-goal thriller
REPORT: Stunning goals spur City to vital win over Brisbane
The frenetic tempo slowed as the half went on but both sides still carved out opportunities in an end-to-end contest.
There were fewer chances after the break, with Victory gloveman Matthew Acton doing well to deny O’Neill a second when he tipped his low drive wide of the post.
Ola Toivonen and substitute Elvis Kamsoba both had great chances to put Victory in front late on before Ninkovic made himself a hero with the winner.