‘Tired’ Sky Blues regroup to power past Victory
SYDNEY FC have returned to winning ways, come from behind in a commanding 4-1 triumph over A-League rival Melbourne Victory at Marvel Stadium.
Victory's Marco Rojas opened the scoring with a sublime individual effort in the fifth minute before Milos Ninkovic responded in the 43rd.
Second-half goals to Anthony Caceres, Adam Le Fondre and Kosta Barbarouses delivered the win, while Victory's Tim Hoogland received a late red card.
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"With the (Rojas) goal, we were a little bit sloppy, of course - it took us a little while to get going; we've had a busy week," Sydney coach Steve Corica said.
"But definitely dominated the game; definitely was outstanding character also to come back - (I'm) very pleased for the boys."
Sydney struck a hammer blow to their opponent's slim finals chances, with Victory seven points off the pace.
Melbourne started the game in scintillating fashion. Storm Roux dispossessed Ninkovic, with the ball falling to Rojas, who proceeded to take on all comers.
The winger deftly stepped away from Luke Brattan and Paulo Retre, skipped around Alex Wilkinson and powered a shot into the roof of the net.
Ola Toivonen, Rojas and Elvis Kamsoba all had chances go begging - though none was as costly as the latter's 42nd-minute miss.
Kamsoba intercepted a loose defensive pass but put his effort wide and the Sky Blues made him rue his inefficiency just a minute later.
Rhyan Grant found Barbarouses, with the forward slipping a pass through to Ninkovic.
The Sydney playmaker left Roux stranded with a clever feint and slid the ball home.
It was Sydney's third game in eight days, but the Sky Blues finished the stronger of the two sides and, in the 64th minute, snatched the lead. Caceres - off the back of a short corner - danced along the edge of the area and unleashed a long-range strike into the opposite top corner.
Sydney doubled its advantage two minutes later. The Sky Blues caught Victory in transition and Grant slipped a clever ball through to Le Fondre.
The golden boot leader chipped Lawrence Thomas, with a desperate Giancarlo Gallifuoco only able to further bury the ball in his own net.
In the 85th minute, Hoogland was given his marching orders for bringing down Trent Buhagiar inside the area.
Barbarouses slotted home the 87th-minute penalty to rub salt into his former club's wounds.
"I think that the problem is that we didn't respect the structure in the second half - it's totally different, the defensive structure, and when you are playing like a team like in the first half, the team can support you," Victory boss Carlos Salvachua said.
"But if you want to play individually, it just depends on your quality and, in the second half, we saw a big difference between the quality.
"We created the same number of chances in the first and second half but we didn't score and we opened the game for them."