Despite the fact both sides were missing key players, it was a lively affair in the southwest as Sydney FC triumphed 3-0 over Macarthur FC at Campbelltown Stadium on Boxing Day.
It’s now two wins on the bounce for Sydney, who find themselves with a 2-2-2 record after six games.
Steve Corica would be happy with the three points, especially considering Bobô, Adam Le Fondre, and Elvis Kamsoba were all ruled out.
The first five to ten minutes belonged to the home side, but after weathering the initial storm, Sydney started to find their feet and opened the scoring just after the ten-minute mark.
Paulo Retre’s delightful ball found Max Burgess, who squared to Patrick Wood to give the young forward a tap-in.
Chances for both sides then came, before the visitors made it 2-0 through Burgess. Trent Buhagiar turned on the nitrous oxide and played an excellent ball across to Burgess, who finished with aplomb.
Retre and 19-year-old Patrick Yazbek combined well in the engine room and this allowed Sydney to control the tempo for a significant chunk of the opening half. Good signs for the midfield, with Mustafa Amini to be added to Corica’s options once the former Borussia Dortmund man gets up to speed.
Burgess could have – and probably should have – made it 3-0 early in the second half.
Buhagiar, who was having one of his best games in a sky blue shirt, did make it three just a few minutes later after some good work from Patrick Wood.
The tempo slowed in the final third of the game as Sydney basically shut up shop, and there was little resistance from the home side.
In the fifth minute, Sydney failed to clear their lines, which led to a chance for Macarthur. The Sky Blues’ defence gave Craig Noone a bit too much room on his preferred left boot, and the Englishman’s shot, which had beaten Andrew Redmayne, was only denied by the crossbar. Had it gone in, the complexion of the game could’ve been a lot different.
Against the run of play, Sydney opened the scoring in the 11th minute through youngster Patrick Wood. A perfectly weighted through ball from the much-maligned Retre found Burgess inside the area. The attacking midfielder then rolled a nice square ball across the face of goal into the path of Wood, who tapped it home from a few yards out. One of the easiest goals Wood will score, but credit Retre for this one.
Twenty-nine minutes in, Sydney went two to the good courtesy of Burgess. Trent Buhagiar, using his strongest attribute, turned on the afterburners and ran around the Macarthur defence as if it was under-8s football, then played a laser-like cut back across the box to the wide-open Burgess, who opened his body and finished into the bottom corner.
The first half-chance of the second half fell to Moudi Najjar. Taking the ball down with an imperfect first touch, the chance seemed to open up for Najjar but the Sydney defence was quick to shut him down. His shot didn’t trouble Redmayne in the end.
A couple of minutes later, it was Buhagiar and Burgess combing again. Buhagiar made his way down the right wing, then played in another well-weighted ball to Burgess, but the latter would see his header screw wide. A free header in the area – it probably should have been 3-0 and game over here.
In the 58th minute, Buhagiar got his name on the scoresheet, to add to his earlier assist. A composed Patrick Wood took on his man and entered the penalty area before delivering a tantalising ball across the face. Buhagiar got just enough on his effort from the edge of the six-yard box to beat Nicholas Šuman in the Macarthur goal.
SFCU player of the match
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As a result of the postponement of the home match against Perth, Sydney will have a bit of a break before their next fixture, which is a trip to Victoria to face Western United on January 7.
Eight days later, they’ll be back home to host Brisbane Roar at Jubilee.