In a match which featured many goals and plenty of drama, Sydney FC ran out 5-2 winners over Dave Mitchell’s Perth side.
Sydney FC made only one enforced change following their 3-2 win over the Mariners last week, with Mitchell Prentice replacing the suspended Stuart Musialik in midfield. For the visitors, David Tarka returned to the starting eleven in place of young Hayden Doyle.
The game began with a Sydney goal out of nowhere. Dino Djulbic, under some pressure on the right, prodded a gentle back-pass in the direction of Tarka. It was quickly intercepted by Alex Brosque, who surged on into the area, manoeuvred himself between Tarka and Jamie Coyne, and finished neatly with his right foot.
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Perth looked stunned, but recovered some composure in the succeeding minutes and managed to score an unexpected equaliser on 12 minutes. Amaral took a free kick deep on the right, and Eugene Dadi captialised on some slack Sydney marking to send an angled header past Clint Bolton.
The game continued on its uninspiring way, with Sydney largely dictating matters, but on 20 minutes they received a welcome double gift. First Steve Corica was bundled over in the box by Adrian Pellegrino for a penalty, and then Djulbic, protesting the decision in provocative terms, was handed a red card by referee Peter Green.
Corica stroked the penalty home, and the result never looked in doubt from that point.
Perth re-organised their formation, shifting Jimmy Downey to right-back and pulling Adrian Trinidad deeper, but Sydney held the initiative for the remainder of the half. Brosque nearly scored a second when he twisted past Coyne on 31 minutes, but he snatched at his left-foot shot.
Following a half-chance for Trinidad, Sydney scored their third on 39 minutes. Corica, lively as always, slid the ball through to Brosque on the right, who sent an insidious ball into the centre: Mark Bridge tapped home, under pressure from Coyne.
The onslaught continued, and on 43 minutes it was four. This time it was the overlapping Iain Fyfe who crossed from the right, and although the ball evaded both Corica and Bridge, Shannon Cole was there to slot the ball home by the far post. Perth at least had the consolation of creating the final chance of the half, when Trinidad had two excellent chances in a minute, one blocked by Simon Colosimo, and the other – a far-post header – saved brilliantly by Clint Bolton.
Nikita Rukavytsya replaced Trinidad at the break, and Sydney, with their three-goal buffer, went badly off the boil in the second period. On 51 minutes, Jimmy Bulloch, peripheral up to that point, went on a useful run down the left, beating Colosimo but sending his eventual shot just over the bar. Then it was Amaral’s turn; the Brazilian cheekily beat Terry McFlynn and sent a searing cross-shot at goal, which Bolton could only push into the path of Rukavytsya. The substitute, however, had insufficient time to react, and prodded wide.
Shannon Cole had another chance to get his name up in lights on 59 minutes, but his trademark free kick flew just wide of the far post. Seven minutes later, Perth scored a well-deserved second goal. Colosimo pushed Dadi over in the box, and the Ivorian slammed home the penalty.
Frank Juric showed his value to Perth with a number of fine saves in the closing stages. Corica was fed by substitute John Aloisi on 68 minutes, but the Perth custodian saved from point-blank range. As he did, superbly, ten minutes later when Fyfe’s cross reached John Aloisi at the far post. But Juric saved his best for last: on 82 minutes, Corica returned the earlier favour by slipping John Aloisi through; after adroitly smothering Aloisi’s shot, Juric went on to save the rebound from Mark Bridge as well.
It eventually took one of his own defenders to beat Juric: a through-ball from Mark Bridge nearly reached Aloisi again, but Nikolai Topor-Stanley’s desperate attempted clearance ended up in the back of the Perth net.