Sydney take full advantage of visitors bearing gifts

by Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League – Season 13 – 2017/2018 – Round 19

7:50pm, Friday 2 February, 20178- Sydney Football Stadium

Sydney FC 4 (Alex Brosque 8′, Adrian Mierzejewski 14′, Milos Ninkovic 74′, David Carney 85′)
Wellington Phoenix FC 0


Runaway Hyundai A-League leaders Sydney FC received plenty of assistance from Wellington Phoenix at Allianz Stadium on 2 February, as the reigning champions swept aside the cellar-dwellers 4-0 in front of 10,220 fans.

Wellington gifted their opponents three goals, the first two coming inside the first fourteen minutes of the match to render the contest as good as over with well over an hour still to play.

The opening goal came in the eighth minute. There appeared to be no great danger as Michael Zullo beat Adam Parkhouse on the half-way line and curled in an early cross towards the edge of the Wellington penalty area.

All that changed when the retreating Marco Rossi left the ball for the approaching Lewis Italiano, who, at the same time, left it for his defender to deal with. The hovering figure of Alex Brosque wasted little time in saying ‘Thankyou very much’ and promptly rounded the dumbstruck duo before rolling the ball into an empty net.

Sydney doubled their lead in the fourteenth minute, and again, it was defensive frailties which paved the way to goal for Sydney. Adrian Mierzejewski’s ball forward was headed away by Andrew Durante on this, the occasion of his record-breaking 279th A-League game.

Goran Paracki was the recipient of the sphere, but he was instantly caught in possession by Brosque, who deftly back-heeled the ball into the stride of Mierzejewski.

He was doubling round in support of the opening goalscorer, and upon finding himself in space inside the penalty area, he arrowed a low drive across Italiano and in by the far post – 2-0.

Straight from the kick-off, the visitors surged downfield, with Matija Ljujic drawing a solid save from Andrew Redmayne at his near post. Six minutes later, Michael McGlinchey engineered some space on the left and whipped in a cross to the near post intended for Nathan Burns, only for Alex Wilkinson to intervene.

Sydney launched a swift counter-attack in response to these raids, with Mierzejewski scooting through, only to be denied another goal by the outstretched leg of Italiano, who foiled the Pole again on the half-hour with a fine diving save to keep out a well-struck twenty-five yard free-kick.

In between times, Jordy Buijs had surged out of defence and picked out Bobo, who was somewhat subdued in this match. His lay-off to reward the defender’s run forward in support was exquisite, however, and gave Buijs the chance to shoot, only for Durante to block the effort to safety.

Wellington’s captain nearly marked his milestone match with what would have been an embarrassing own goal in the 32nd minute. Under pressure, he steered a back pass in the general direction of Italiano, but nowhere near the ‘keeper, who had to scramble back madly to prevent the ball from crossing the line for a third time in the half.

Ten minutes before half-time, Bobo squandered a golden chance to engineer Sydney’s third goal. Played through the offside trap by Mierzejewski, he took the ball on and lured Italiano out of goal before firing past both him and the far post, with the Polish playmaker racing in on the latter to tuck in what would have been an easy goal, had the league’s leading goalscorer not looked to increase his tally for the season.

Bobo was denied again on the stroke of half-time, this time by substitute Dylan Fox, one of two Wellington replacements whose entry to the fray was prompted by injuries to team-mates, with Rossi and Matthew Ridenton the duo who bid adieu earlier than planned.

Sydney’s dominance continued early in the second spell, Italiano being forced into another save to deny the offside but unflagged Bobo just four minutes after play had resumed.

The resulting corner was cleared to Buijs, who worked an opening with Paulo Retre on the left. The Dutchman charged into the penalty area before seeing his pull-back strike Bobo at the near post, allowing Wellington to scramble the ball to safety.

It wasn’t meant to be for the league’s leading marksman in this match, Bobo being withdrawn from the fray after again being foiled by Italiano just after the hour mark. His departure briefly stirred Wellington into life, with debutant substitute Liberato Cacace very much to the fore in their brief attacking foray.

Played in by Ljujic, the newcomer’s driven low cross prompted panic in the Sydney goalmouth, with Redmayne producing a fine blocking save at the feet of McGlinchey, Paracki powering the rebound past the far post.

That was as good as it would get for the bottom-of-the-table team, for after Brosque battered a shot narrowly past the far post in the 73rd minute after being brilliantly picked out by Retre’s pass, the title-holders increased their advantage sixty seconds later.

Once again, it was a defensive howler from which Sydney benefited, Daniel Mullen the culprit on this occasion. Milos Ninkovic swooped on the sphere and deftly lifted it over the advancing figure of Italiano – 3-0.

After substitute Matt Simon had gone desperately close to heading home Zullo’s cross ten minutes from time, Sydney wrapped up the scoring five minutes later. Again the fullback was involved, Zullo picking out Ninkovic with a pass which invited the playmaker to feed David Carney.

The substitute guided the ball into the stride of the overlapping Aaron Calver, whose first-time cross was neatly steered home by Carney to cap off an impressive Sydney display, albeit against opponents who heavily contributed to their own demise with some at times dreadful defending.

Match details

Crowd: 10,220

Sydney FC: Redmayne (gk); Wilkshire (Calver, 81), Buijs, Wilkinson, Zullo; Brillante, Brosque (Carney, 79), Retre; Mierzejewski, Bobo (Simon, 68), Nankervis (booked, 24)

Wellington Phoenix FC: Italiano (gk); Mullen, Durante, Rossi (Fox, 34), Galloway (Rufer, 84); Ridenton (booked, 29) (Cacace, 54), Ljujic; Park house (booked, 11), Burns, McGlinchey

Points and ratings

Match 5/10
Pitch 7/10

Referee Kris Griffiths-Jones 5/10

Players points:

3. Mierzejewski
2. Buijs
1. Zullo