Sydney win again to lead table by ten points
By Stephen Webb
Season 12, 2016-17
Round 13, December 30, 2016, 7.50pm
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Sydney FC 2 (Brosque 36′, Ninkovic 63′)
Brisbane Roar FC 0
The theory — according to Sydney comrades sitting behind me — was that Sydney usually won 4-0 but, since Brisbane Roar were quite good, we would probably only beat them 3-0.
And that’s what might well have happened had not skipper and goal scorer Alex Brosque been sent off in the 65th minute when Sydney were already leading 2-0.
Sydney had been described as runaway leaders of the competition. Some commentators were already calling Sydney favourites for at least one trophy.
But in reality Sydney had been riding some good fortune (for once) and Melbourne Victory were close on their heals.
Despite Brisbane being strong on paper, some of Sydney’s most sublime football this season came against the Queensland side at Suncorp in Round 7.
Judging by the buzz in and around Allianz Stadium before this match there were expectations that performance could be repeated … but with a better outcome than a draw.
Dining nearby prior to kick off I spoke with a foundation member who reckoned Sydney had never played so well. Sydney should win but Brisbane, on a ten-game unbeaten streak, still presented a threat.
And that’s how the game began. Sydney were comfortable despite having to clear a few corners and crosses. And in the 15th minute Alex Wilkinson had to make a seriously good block tackle to deny Jamie Maclaren outside Sydney’s goal box.
But minutes later Brosque missed a chance and Bobo, supplied by Milos Ninkovic, curled a shot beyond the top right corner of the Brisbane goal.
In the 19th minute Bobo headed wide on a cross from Ryan Grant on the right.
By the 23rd minute Brosque had his first yellow card and Brisbane were getting their act together.
Thomas Broich headed wide of the right post on a cross from Dimitri Petratos on the left.
In the 31st minute Broich took an extended tumble into the Sydney penalty area and won a free kick just outside. Petratos’ kick called a fine save from Danny Vukovic.
The first celebrations came Sydney’s way in the 36th minute when Bobo capitalised on a favourable rebound from Luke De Vere and ran hard to goal from half way, drawing Corey Brown and providing Brosque with the opportunity to shoot across Michael Theo into the bottom left corner.
Two minutes later Theo was strong saving a first-time shot from Brosque running onto a pass from Milos Ninkovic.
Vukovic was the keeper under pressure for the remainder of the half, pushing a Petratos shot over the goal, doing extremely well to stop a header from Maclaren, collecting some easier Petratos attempts, and twice denying Petratos at the foot of the left upright.
Theo had his turn in the second half, in the 50th minute making a neat save with his left foot to stop Brosque and then catching a header from Ryan Grant.
In the 58th minute substitute Manuel Arana volleyed with the outside of his right foot onto Sydney’s crossbar.
Great work by Ninkovic set up Zullo for a cross, which Jade North cleared for a Sydney corner.
A shot from Brandon O’Neill was tipped over by Theo. From the corner Kristensen did very well blocking an effort from Ninkovic.
Sydney’s second goal, like the first, followed a favourable intervention from a Brisbane defender. A clearance by Matthew Jurman found Grant, whose pass was deflected by Brisbane to Bobo, who set up Ninkovic to score across Theo, diving to his right.
Things were looking cruisy for Sydney until … the 65th minute when Brosque received his second yellow and was asked to leave the pitch. To a standing ovation.
Thereafter it was 25 minutes of Sydney holding on. And the home side weathered the pressure pretty well, forcing Brisbane to resort to long shots, mostly by Petratos, that rarely troubled Vukovic.
In the 73rd minute the Sydney keeper had to push the ball away from the feet of Maclaren, and there were attempts by Kristensen and Arana.
Sydney still had a few chances, one wasted by Grant high and wide and Jurman heading just wide on a free kick.
A Bernie Ibini foul on Brown gave Brisbane a free kick to the left of Sydney’s penalty area. Brandon Borrello shot wide left.
In the 85th minute Ninkovic had a long shot for Sydney that required a save from Theo.
No third goal but perhaps keeping the sheet clean with ten players is just as good.
Sydney FC 2 (Brosque 36’, Ninkovic 63’) defeated Brisbane Roar FC 0
20. Danny Vukovic (gk), 4. Alex Wilkinson, 5. Matt Jurman, 6. Josh Brillante, 7. Michael Zullo, 9. Bobô (18. Matt Simon 79’), 10. Milos Ninkovic (22. Sebastian Ryall 89’), 13. Brandon O’Neill, 14. Alex Brosque (C), 21. Filip Holosko (11. Bernie Ibini 64’), 23. Rhyan Grant.
Subs Not Used: 31. Tomas Manos, 17. David Carney.
Yellow cards: Brosque 23’, Brillante 31’, Zullo 55’, Simon 95’.
Red cards: Brosque 66’.
Brisbane Roar FC
1.Michael Theo (gk), 3. Luke De Vere, 5. Corey Brown, 7. Thomas Kristensen, 9. Jamie Maclaren, 11. Tommy Oar (15.Arana 56’), 13. Jade North, 17. Matt McKay (C), 19. Jack Hingert (28.Brandon Borrello 69’), 22. Thomas Broich, 23. Dimitri Petratos.
Subs Not Used: 21. Jamie Young (gk), 4. Daniel Bowles, 8. Jacob Pepper.
Yellow cards: Arana 88’.
Red cards: None.
Referee: Shaun Evans
Assistants: Allyson Flynn and Owen Goldrick
Fourth Official: Luke Withell
3. Danny Vukovic (Sydney)
2. Bobo (Sydney)
1. Dimitri Petratos (Brisbane)