A 10-man Sydney FC have eased the pressure on coach Frank Farina downing arch-rivals Melbourne Victory 3-2 in a classic at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
A 10-man Sydney FC have eased the pressure on coach Frank Farina and reignited their A-League campaign after throwing away a two-goal lead before downing arch-rivals Melbourne Victory 3-2 in a classic at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
A frenetic opening half produced five goals, a straight red card to Sydney defender Marc Warren and an Alessandro Del Piero penalty on the night of his 39th birthday.
Del Piero's spot kick proved the difference in the end, killing a three-match losing streak that had Farina's position under threat.
The coach was embraced by his entire bench at the sound of the full-time whistle, the relief almost palpable.
The Big Blue derby rarely disappoints and this one was right up there up with the best of them.
Three goals in a frenetic 17-minute period set the scene for a dramatic night.
Richie Garcia grabbed his first in a Sydney shirt after just three minutes, pouncing first after Vedran Janjetovic's firmly hit goal kick skimmed off a Melbourne defender's head.
Garcia still had plenty of work to do but did it well, taking a touch to round Victory keeper Nathan Coe before rolling the ball into an empty net.
It was a goal that settled jangled nerves on the Sydney bench and ensured the crowd was pacified after a difficult month.
Seven minutes later the Sky Blues doubled their lead in bizarre circumstances.
A Sydney corner was met with a powerful header from Melbourne's Jason Geria, which cannoned into the face of rival Seb Ryall and into the net.
The Sydney defender didn't know much about his goal, slumping to the ground dazed and with a bloodied nose.
While Ryall was off the field receiving attention, the visitors made the most of their numerical advantage to storm up the other end and pull a goal back.
The pacy Connor Pain got in behind the Sydney defence to latch onto a long ball and send a left-footed cross into the six-yard box.
The ever-present Archie Thompson was on hand to tap the ball home for his second goal in as many weeks.
But the drama was only just beginning.
The game turned on its head at the 25th-minute mark when Warren was sent off for pulling at a goal-bound Pain.
Team-mate Tiago Calvano may also find himself in trouble after appearing to grab at referee Peter Green's arm as he reached into his pocket to deliver the red card.
From the ensuing free kick, James Troisi's drive deflected off a leaping Ryall in the wall and past a helpless Janjetovic for a scarcely believable 2-2 scoreline.
But the Sky Blues had the final say of a remarkable half when marquee man Del Piero slotted a penalty after Pablo Contreras had climbed all over him just inside the box.
The second half, not surprisingly, failed to match the first for drama but there was still no shortage of action.
The Victory squandered several clear-cut chances to draw level as Sydney's overworked but resolute defence somehow held on despite being a man down for 65 minutes.
Sydney FC (Garcia 3, Ryall 15, Del Piero 37) Melbourne Victory (Thompson 17, Troisi 27) Crowd: 18,784 @ Allianz Stadium