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Match Report: Sydney FC 2 – Brisbane Roar 1 – Round 20

Sydney FC 2 (Del Piero 7′, Triantis 70′)
Brisbane Roar 1 (Berisha 45p’)
Crowd: 14,589 at Allianz Stadium. 10th February 2013

With both clubs needing a win to enter the top six, the Round 20 clash between Sydney and Brisbane was bound to be a tense affair. Both clubs are struggling to find any consistent form, and are battling along with interim coaches after poor results under Ian Crook and Rado Vidošić.

Sydney started the game without Jason Čulina, whose midweek training bust-up with Frank Farina cost him a place in the squad. It has since been announced that Čulina has left the club, wasting the long rehabilitation process that got him back to full fitness.

Amidst the turmoil, however, Alessandro Del Piero again showed his professionalism, scoring early to put Sydney ahead.

Receiving a bouncing ball from the midfield, Blake Powell fed Del Piero, who turned Ivan Franjić inside out before burying his shot in the bottom corner.

Brisbane’s new Dutch recruit Stefan Nijland began to impose himself on the game, linking well with Mitch Nichols, Besart Berisha and Thomas Broich. But for all of Brisbane’s composed passing, they created few clear cut chances.

Their best opportunity came on 28 minutes, as Broich lofted a delightful ball to Nijland, who was incorrectly judged to be offside as he placed the ball in the path of Berisha.

Brisbane continued to dominate possession, and on the stroke of half time won a penalty as Nijland was brought down by Fabio as he surged towards Sydney’s goal. The crowd didn’t like it, but it was a clear penalty. Besart Berisha buried the spot kick, and the teams went into the tunnel all square.

On 56 minutes, Blake Powell did well to hold up a Del Piero cross, laying it off to Rhyan Grant, whose shot was well stopped by Michael Theo. Powell was then withdrawn by Farina for Joel Chianese, a strange move considering how well the young striker was playing. Powell may be an unlikely target man, but he continually held the ball up well and brought his teammates into the attack.

With the game seemingly headed for a draw, Peter Triantis – who was called up to replace Jason Čulina – drove a powerful shot into the bottom right hand corner. Collecting the ball on his chest twenty yards out, his right foot drive put Sydney ahead, and was his first ever goal in the A-League.

The win puts the Sky Blues into the top six with just seven rounds remaining. Off-field problems continue to plague the side, but with two crunch matches against Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers approaching, it’s now or never for Sydney FC.