Sydney FC are now just a point away from guaranteeing themselves a place in this year’s finals series, following a highly entertaining 4-1 win on over the Wellington Phoenix a water-logged SFS surface.
Alessandro Del Piero moved into outright second – behind Alex Brosque – on the club’s all-time goal scorers list with a double, Seb Ryall scored arguably one of the greatest team goals in Sky Blues history, while Ali Abbas also scored a screamer of his own, as sixth placed Sydney moved three points clear of the chasing Newcastle Jets, with a superior goal difference of +3 also on their side.
Playing in atrocious conditions – due to a combination of Friday night’s rugby league match at the venue and some heavy rain leading up to and during the match – both sides seemed content to play aerial ping pong for large periods of the opening 30 minutes.
It was Sydney that then took the lead on the half-hour mark thanks to some wily play from mega marquee ADP, who suckered Wellington’s Jeremy Brockie into committing a foul that referee Kris Griffiths-Jones ruled was just inside the edge of the box, before calmly slotting home the ensuing spot kick. Phoenix defender Ben Sigmund was incensed with Griffiths-Jones, as he and his team mates believed the foul had taken place outside the penalty area.
Tempers flared between the two teams at the other end of the pitch just minutes later, when Sigmund slid into Sky Blues keeper Vedran Janjetovic. The subsequent scuffle saw Sigmund actually lifted off the ground and carted away by Terry Antonis and Abbas, in one of the most comical scenes you could hope to see on a football field, with Sigmund, Janjetovic and Matt Jurman all receiving yellow cards as a result of the fracas.
Sigmund was in the thick of the action yet again just prior to the half-time whistle, when he fouled Del Piero in a dangerous position just metres outside the box. ADP then doubled the advantage with a trademark, late-swinging free kick that put Sydney well and truly in the driver’s seat and took his Sky Blues goal tally to 24, one clear of club legend Steve Corica and six behind Brosque.
The Italian veteran nearly had a hat-trick early in the second when he hit the woodwork off another free kick, before Wellington were awarded a penalty in the 56th minute that Costa Rican import Carlos Hernandez put away to reduce the deficit to one goal.
But it didn’t take long at all for the home side to put the game away.
Straight off the ensuing kick-off, Ryall pushed forward from wing-back and combined brilliantly with Milos Dimitrijevic and Joel Chianese on the right flank, with one-touch passing that Barcelona would have been proud of, before running on into the box and volleying home a sublime lofted pass from ADP.
Abbas capped things off just past the hour-mark, with a shot that resembled a heat-seeking missile finding its way from the Iraqi native’s left boot on the corner of the penalty area, into the top right corner of the net.
Sydney will now take plenty of confidence into next Sunday’s home match against Perth Glory, which could be a dead rubber, depending on the result of Friday night’s match between the Jets and Adelaide United.