Grant the hero as Sydney FC weather Phoenix storm
Rhyan Grant's terrific finish gave Sydney FC a 2-1 win after weathering a Wellington Phoenix storm at Leichhardt Oval in Sunday's Hyundai A-League clash.
Australian international Grant rescued the Sky Blues in the 77th minute when he looped a Brandon O'Neill free-kick over Phoenix 'keeper Stefan Marinovic against the run of play.
Steve Corica's side had opened the scoring in the 18th minute through Brandon O'Neill but spent large portions of the encounter on the back foot, following a very impressive response from the New Zealanders.
Ufuk Talay's men might've entered the half-time interval level but for an outstanding save from Andrew Redmayne from Jaushua Sotirio's header, and after Kosta Barbarouses gave Wellington an early scare, the Phoenix went even closer when David Ball hit the foot of the post after Redmayne had denied Davila from close range.
Davila scored the equalising goal the team's enterprise merited after beating Redmayne with a deflected effort, but Grant's instinctive finish proved decisive.
To add insult to injury for Phoenix, fullback Liberato Cacace was dismissed for a foul on Sydney substitute Anthony Caceres.
O'Neill opens the scoring
Sydney were very slick in the opening stages at Leichhardt Oval but broke the deadlock in scrappy fashion.
Alexander Baumjohann's corner was temporarily cleared and O'Neill's initial shot was blocked, but the Australian midfielder had another bite at the cherry and it trickled off the leg of Phoenix striker David Ball and into the net.
Phoenix fight back
They were rattled by the Sky Blues inside the first 15 minutes, but Phoenix showed they weren't just simply going to roll over against the reigning Hyundai A-League Champions.
Ball and Callum McCowatt were both lively, while Sotirio forced a top-class save from Sydney 'keeper Redmayne with the half time whistle nearing.
Big chances at both ends
The second half began with a flurry of action. Barbarouses was halted by Phoenix shot stopper Marinovic when the Kiwi attacker opted to ignore Adam Le Fondre and go it alone.
At the other end, Ball struck the post after Redmayne had denied Davila from close range.
Sydney FC continued to weather the storm, but their resistance was eventually broken by Phoenix's persistence, and the persistence of the enigmatic Davila. The Mexican took a cutback from Sotirio in his stride, stepped inside a Sydney defender and beat Redmayne with a deflected effort to give Talay's men the goal they deserved.
Grant restores the lead
It may have been cruel on Wellington, but parity lasted all of eight minutes. O'Neill's free kick from the right was somewhat undercooked, however, Caltex Socceroo Grant guided the ball with the inside of his foot and looped it over Marinovic with a terrific finish.
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