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Match report: Sydney FC vs Wellington Phoenix – 19/12/21

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Sydney FC earned a satisfying first win of the season on Sunday night, surviving a late scare to beat Wellington Phoenix 2-1.

The first half was dominated by a new Sky Blue XI, with James Donachie at centre back, Patrick Yazbek in the middle, Anthony Caceres out wide, and Elvis Kamsoba as a supporting striker. Sydney scored in the 19th minute and looked comfortable, fashioning a dozen chances from transitions, set pieces and open play. Wellington played neatly, but failed to make much happen.

The second half was more even. Adam Le Fondre doubled the lead in the 58th minute, but Wellington pressed higher and harder throughout and notched a goal in the 83rd minute. The Phoenix finished strongly, before ultimately falling short.

First half: key moments:

4th minute: Yazbek jinked into space and laid the ball off, but a poor touch from Le Fondre saw the move break down. Yazbek retrieved the ball with a sliding challenge, it was worked quickly wide and whipped in, and Le Fondre sent a sharp chance over.

9th minute: Phoenix played the ball to the far post and Sotirio’s shot from a tough angle was deflected high and wide. From the corner, a shot struck Yazbek’s arm but both referee and VAR deemed the contact was innocuous.

10th minute: Caceres surged forward carrying the ball. He was tackled and the ball bobbled in front of Kamsoba, whose weak volley bounced to the keeper.

15th minute: A long ball and header released Caceres down the right. He drove into the box and rolled the ball to Elvis Kamsoba. From right in front, Kamsoba blazed an excellent chance over the bar.

19th minute: Yazbek won the ball back with a strong sliding challenge. The ball was worked to King, who looped a deep cross to Van Der Saag. He headed back across goal to Kamsoba, who had a surprising amount of time to bring the ball down and smack it in at the near post.

26th minute: Retre won the ball in midfield and the ball came to Kamsoba, and Sydney had a three on two. But Kamsoba’s pass to Burgess was off and the chance evaporated.

29th minute: Kamsoba won the ball back and it came to Burgess, who drove forward and shot. The rebound pinged to Caceres, who wrested with Lewis, took a touch and fell over after a clash of legs. No penalty was given.

37th minute: Adam Le Fondre flicked a fine pass into the box to Kamsoba, who took a slightly heavy touch and shot towards the near post, drawing a good save. From the corner the ball bounced to Yazbek, who smashed a venomous shot too close to the keeper.

46th minute: not a key moment, but worth a mention for the ambition. Facing away from goal at the top of the box, Kamsoba knocked the ball up and tried a spectacular bicycle kick. It bounced well wide.

Second half: key moments:

58th minute: Anthony Caceres drove forward from halfway and under-hit a pass to Le Fondre. Sam Sutton failed to react and clear, and Le Fondre cooly finished the chance.

61st minute: Sutton surged forward from left back and rolled the ball to Piscopo in the box, who sliced a looping shot up into the beautiful sunset.


64th minute: A wonderful fake from Van Der Saag and cool pass from Kamsoba found Caceres – some sublime skill made room for the shot, but Caceres skied it over the bar.

78th minute: Andrew Redmayne was forced into a save by a cute guided header from Ben Waine.

83rd minute: a Phoenix free kick was cleared and Ben Old struck a weak shot. Waine was played onside by a tardy Alex Wilkinson, and Waine finished under Redmayne.

94th minute: Caceres and Paolo Retre worked their way into space from a corner: Caceres teed Milos Ninkovic up from the edge of the box, and Ninkovic’s shot rattled the near post.

Match highlights:

Player of the match:

Vote for the SFCU player of the match here:

I’ll be voting for:
3 – Patrick Yazbek
1 – Elvis Kamsoba
1 – James Donachie
1 – Anthony Caceres

Yazbek looked comfortable from the start in his first A League start: within the first few minutes he carried the ball, fashioned a chance, and broke up a Phoenix attack. In his 76 minutes Yazbek seemed as happy to run hard and crash into a challenge as he was to offer in tight spaces and smack a shot.

Kamsoba was inconsistent but positive, threatening, and scored the first goal. Donachie was solid in defence and reacted well when under pressure with and without the ball. Caceres threatened well in his more advanced role, but clearly has the ability to do more.

What they said:

Stephen Corica:

At 85:24: “Newey, wake up, fuck ya!”

In the press conference (taken from Sydney FC’s match report):

“I was very happy with the three points, that was the main thing tonight.”

“Obviously results haven’t been going our way so we needed to get back on track and I think we did that tonight.

“We showed a good performance and maybe could have won by a little bit more in the end.

“Once they got the goal back it did put us under pressure and I’m very proud of the boys and pleased for them because they have been working hard and should have had a few results before tonight but we are off and running now.”

Press conference available here:

Key stats:

Sydney FC: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE, 2. James DONACHIE, 4. Alex WILKINSON, 8. Paulo RETRE, 14. Adam LE FONDRE (9. BOBÔ 64’), 16. Joel KING, 17. Anthony CACERES, 22. Max BURGESS (10. Milos NINKOVIC 64’), 21. Harry VAN DER SAAG (23. Rhyan GRANT 64’), 27. Elvis KAMSOBA (12. Trent BUHAGIAR 81’), 32. Patrick YAZBEK (28. Calem NIEUWENHOF 77’).
Unused Subs: 20. Tom HEWARD-BELLE (GK), 3. Ben WARLAND.
Yellow Cards: Retre 61’.
Red Cards: None.

Wellington Phoenix: 20. Oli SAIL (40. Alex PAULSEN 27’), 6. Tim PAYNE, 9. David BALL (43. Oskar van HATTUM 75’), 10. Reno PISCOPO, 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO (13. Nicholas PENNINGTON 66’) 14. Alex RUFER (8. Ben OLD 66’), 16. Louis FENTON (17. Callan ELLIOTT 45’), 18. Ben WAINE, 19. Sam SUTTON, 21. Joshua LAWS, 23. Clayton LEWIS.
Unused Subs: None.
Yellow Cards: None.
Red Cards: None.

Next game: Sydney host Brisbane Roar in the FFA Cup quarter final on Wednesday December 22. Kick off is an early 6pm.