Hyundai A-League - 2012/2013 - Season 8

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Del Pieroooooooooooooooooooooo!
By Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 17
5:30pm, Saturday 19 January, 2013
at Sydney Football Stadium

Sydney FC 7
(Joel Griffiths 11, Allessandro Del Piero 21, 23, 39, 70, Jason Culina 26, Yairo Yau 84')

Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Ben Sigmund 79')

There are occasions in sport when it is necessary, essential and beneficial to set aside your allegiances, sit back, and as a football fan savour the opportunity to watch a master at work, no matter how much damage he / she inflicts on your team.

For Wellington Phoenix fans, that dreaded moment came at the Allianz Stadium on 19 January, during their clash with Sydney FC. Former Italian international Alessandro Del Piero was afforded the freedom of the football pitch and proceeded to put on a clinic, helping himself to four goals as he led Sydney to a 7-1 triumph.

Sydney’s biggest ever win was also Wellington’s heaviest ever Hyundai A-League defeat. To make matters worse for the visitors, they began the game propping up the table, one place and one point behind their conquerors.

Making a fourth successive play-offs series seems a pipe dream for Wellington after this result. That said, the prospect of making them hasn’t exactly looked likely for Sydney all season, either. But after this result, and a couple of other recent wins …

The visitors enjoyed the first opportunity of the match, Stein Huysegems unable to capitalise on the chance to lob the advancing Vedran Janjetovic after Ben Sigmund’s early ball forward put the striker in between Sydney’s defenders in the fourth minute of play.

Seven minutes later, Sydney opened the scoring. There appeared little threat to the visitors as Del Piero secured possession on half-way, but one defence-splitting pass later, all that changed.

New Sydney signing Joel Griffiths’ diagonal run was rewarded by a peach of a pass from the playmaker, and he gleefully tucked the ball in between Sigmund and the advancing figure of Mark Paston to the delight of the majority of the 12,691 fans present, who erupted with joy as the ball rolled slowly over the line.

Wellington’s response was to go hot on attack, with Jeremy Brockie twice going close in the next two minutes, firstly with a header, then when thwarted by Rhyan Grant in the act of shooting after Vince Lia had picked out the former Sydney striker.

Then it was Huysegems’ turn to threaten again, this time rattling the side-netting after being picked out by Dani Sanchez’s switch of play, the Spaniard having neatly controlled Paston’s seventeenth minute clearance.

When Wellington next launched an attack of note, the game was as good as over as a contest - that’s the effect one team scoring three goals in six minutes can have on a football match.

Paston tipped a fine first-time effort from the charging figure of Fabio Alves over the bar in the eighteenth minute, while from the resulting corner, Grant had a goal ruled out for a handling offence.

But in the twentieth minute, Sydney got their second goal. Jason Culina’s corner wasn’t cleared, and Terry McFlynn steered the ball into the penalty area, where Del Piero, with his back to goal, feinted one way then turned the other before curling a sumptuous twelve-yarder into the far corner of the net - sheer quality!

2-0 very quickly became 3-0, but in controversial circumstances. Referee Kris Griffiths-Jones made a right pig’s ear of an off-the-ball collision in the penalty area between Culina and Andrew Durante, ruling that Wellington’s captain had committed a bookable offence after pointing to the spot.

Del Piero duly sent Paston the wrong way in the 23rd minute, then three minutes later, set the ball rolling on Sydney’s fourth goal, his pass releasing the overlapping McFlynn down the left.

The midfielder’s cross zoomed beyond all bar Culina, who swept home a fine volleyed strike which brought up an A-League record - four goals in 26 minutes, and a 4-0 lead to the home team, whose fans were ecstatic, and why not?

Amazingly, Wellington didn’t lie down and die, but kept on attacking a Sydney rearguard which has shipped more goals than any other team so far this season. Alex Smith picked out Huysegems on the far post on the half-hour with a delightful cross, but the striker’s downward header flashed past the upright.

Seconds later, Sanchez let rip from twenty-five yards. Janjetovic parried this, and tipped a Tyler Boyd twenty-yarder round the post five minutes later, soon after the youngster had rattled the side-netting after scything in off the left flank and side-stepping a challenge.

Sydney’s response to this flurry of attempts to reduce the deficit was to increase it six minutes before half-time. Del Piero whipped in a free-kick which was eventually returned to him by Culina, and left the Italian one-on-one with Leo Bertos.

There was only ever going to be one winner in that contest, and Del Piero jinked inside the fullback before curling home his hat-trick strike beyond the flailing fingertips of Paston - 5-0.

And so nearly six seconds later, Del Piero’s free-kick picking out Grant, who directed his header straight at Paston, a goalkeeper who was much relieved to hear the half-time whistle, despite the fact he could have done absolutely nothing to prevent any of the goals, such was the quality of the finishing.

The home team were eager to dip their bread in the second spell, Griffiths signalling their intentions just three minutes into the half when sending a header flashing over the bar from Culina’s cross.

Three minutes later, Alves swooped on a poor touch inside his own half and stormed downfield, eventually careering into Wellington’s penalty area, at which point he opted to shoot.

Paston blocked the shot to safety, but wouldn’t have stood a prayer had the fullback done the right thing and rolled the ball into the stride of the totally unmarked Del Piero, who was up in support near the edge of the area.

Sydney contrived a delightful six-man move just after the hour mark which featured Culina, Brett Emerton - not his best ninety minutes by any means, Del Piero, McFlynn, Griffiths and the overlapping Alves, whose cross was pawed out by Paston, the ‘keeper’s touch just enough to prevent Griffiths from being able to turn the ball home.

They weren’t too concerned, however, for their sixth goal materialised twenty minutes from time. Ali Abbas surged forward from half-way before slipping the ball into the stride of Del Piero, who was in full flight as he powered into the penalty area, at which point Durante was done like a kipper!

Del Piero calmly stepped inside the wrong-footed defender and calmly curled home his fourth goal of the game, this time via the inside of the far angle between post and crossbar.

Wellington could have been forgiven for begging referee Griffiths-Jones to call the game off early. Instead, they kept plugging away, the welcome sight of Paul Ifill’s return to the fray the lone highlight they will take from their darkest day in A-League history.

He it was who sent a volley sizzling past the far post in the 76th minute, and, three minutes later, engineered the visitors’ only goal of the evening, Sigmund heading home Ifill’s cross from close range after yet another Wellington corner - they forced over a dozen of them!

But this goal would be all they had to show for it on an occasion when Del Piero dictated terms. And after he was withdrawn from the fray to the standing ovation his performance so richly deserved, two of the substitutes stepped up to the plate and showed that they had been watching and learning from what had unfolded before them.

Grant’s ball forward was headed out by Sigmund to Yairo Yau, who worked a delightful one-two with fellow replacement Blake Powell before coolly clipping the ball past Paston to make it 7-1 to Sydney with six minutes remaining.

Time for more goals, one hoped, but ‘twas not to be, despite the efforts of Durante - he shot straight at Janjetovic, Emerton - he rattled the side-netting after more work by Yau, and Ifill, who hit the bar after Sigmund and Brockie had combined to present the striker with the chance to wrong-foot an opponent and let fly.

Wellington, from an attacking perspective, deserved better representation on the scoreboard for all their creativity in this match, but their finishing failed them. Mind, it was far better than their defensive efforts, particularly in midfield, where Smith and Lia were missing, presumed having a good time.

Del Piero certainly was in their absence, and led Wellington a merry dance as a result. They couldn’t contain him, and paid the price on the scoreboard on a record-breaking occasion for both clubs, 7-1 being Sydney’s biggest ever win, and one they very much merited.

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 17
5:30pm, Saturday 19 January, 2013
at Sydney Football Stadium

Sydney FC 7
(Joel Griffiths 11, Allessandro Del Piero 21, 23, 39, 70, Jason Culina 26, Yairo Yau 84')

Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Ben Sigmund 79')

    Crowd: 12,691


    Sydney FC :
    Player listing:
    20. Vedran Janjetovic (gk), 2. Sebastian Ryall, 3. Fabio, 6. Jason Culina, 7. Brett Emerton, 10. Alessandro Del Piero (12. Blake Powell 83’), 13. Tiago Calvano (18. Trent McClenahan 57’), 15. Terry McFlynn, 22. Ali Abbas, 23. Rhyan Grant, 29. Joel Griffiths (21. Yairo Yau 65’)

    Substitutes not used: 33. Matthew Nash (rgk)

    Coach: Frank Farina

    Yellow Cards: Ali Abbas 68'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Mark Paston (gk), 3. Tony Lochhead, 6. Alexander Smith, 7. Leo Bertos, 10. Stein Huysegems (8. Paul Ifill 65’), 11. Jeremy Brockie, 12. Tyler Boyd, 17. Vince Lia, 18. Ben Sigmund, 21. Daniel Sanchez (16. Louie Fenton 84’), 22. Andrew Durante

    Substitutes not used: 20. Glen Moss (gk), 9. Benjamin Totori

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Vince Lia 38’, Ben Sigmund 47’, Jeremy Brockie 73’
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Kris Griffith-Jones 5/10
    AR1: Rodney Allen, AR2: Leigh Pigram; 4th Official: Stephen Lucas

    BOTN Player Points:
    > 3. Alessandra Del Piero (Sydney FC)
    2. Jason Culina (Sydney FC)
    1. Joel Griffiths (Sydney FC)

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 8/10

    Match report and ratings: By Jeremy Ruane

No photos this time

Disclaimer: The content of this report is the responsibility of the writer. Stats are either as recorded by the writer at the game, or as supplied by FFA, or a mixture - no responsibility can be taken for their compete accuracy although we do strive for that. Any photos used here are as attributed.

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