A proud Graham Arnold says Sydney FC’s AFC Champions League win over a full-strength Guangzhou Evergrande is a wonderful night for the club and a marker for what the club can achieve for the rest of the season.
The Sky Blues produced their best performance in some time to emerge 2-1 winners over a shell-shocked Guangzhou in front of more than 18,000 delirious fans in Sydney.
In a cracking match, substitute Milos Dimitrijevic secured a memorable win for the Hyundai A-League side with his crucial 88th minute strike.
“We have to build momentum off the back of this because it’s a fantastic result to beat the Asian champions,” a beaming Arnold said post-match.
“I don’t believe any other team in the country could have done what they [Sydney FC players] did tonight that against them.
“Guangzhou were at full strength, they had all their top players here and they came here with intentions to win and we did better than them tonight.”
Sydney dominated early on and took the lead through Robert Stambolziev before Guangzhou equalised midway through the first half via Huang Bowen, after Ricardo Goulart had missed a penalty.
The match swung from end-to-end from that point before Dimitrijevic scored a golden goal for Sydney’s ACL hopes this season.
It was a superb display by the home side, made even more remarkable by the fact they have struggled of late in the A-League, failing to win any of their last six matches.
“We’ve had a pretty tough five weeks but our performance tonight was outstanding,” Arnold said.
“Our tactical discipline, our structure was perfect. The boys carried out the game plan very well and I thought we were good value for our three points tonight.”
Arnold singled out midfield trio Mickael Tavares, Brandon O’Neill and Milos Ninkovic for special praise, while Matt Jurman and David Carney were also impressive.
But the home side didn’t have a bad player across the pitch, deserving getting the better of their more illustrious opponents.
“One thing we spoke about this afternoon was we had to be brave to play,” Arnold said.
“If you keep turning the ball over and give them possession to hurt you, we’ll be chasing all game. From the first minute we wanted to play.
“There were occasions where our decisions were bad…we had a three-on-two or a four-on-two, where if our decisions were better we could have got the goal earlier.”
Sydney now has to recover for Saturday night’s vital A-League clash in Melbourne against City.
Seb Ryall, Rhyan Grant, Jacques Faty, David Carney [all suspended] and Alex Brosque (hamstring) are all unavailable for the clash, while Matt Simon (internal bleeding) is racing the clock to be fit.