A stunning 25-yard thunderbolt from Italian marquee Alessandro Del Piero wasn’t enough to prevent Sydney FC going down to a 2-1 defeat against Perth Glory in Western Australia.
A stunning 25-yard thunderbolt from Italian marquee Alessandro Del Piero wasn-t enough to prevent Sydney FC going down to a 2-1 defeat against Perth Glory in Western Australia.
The goal, sandwiched in between strikes from Perth-s Chris Harold and Shane Smeltz, was the highlight for the Sky Blues, who also had left back Fabio sent off before the hour mark for a second yellow card.
It means Frank Farina-s men go into next Saturday night-s crunch home clash with the Central Coast Mariners knowing a win is vital to keep alive hopes of making this season-s A-League play-offs.
Sydney started the game with Farina making two changes to the side beaten by Melbourne Heart a week earlier. Adam Griffiths came into the centre of defence at the expense of Tiago Calvano who dropped to the bench, while Terry McFlynn replaced the suspended Sebastian Ryall, with Rhyan Grant filling the right back role.
It was Sydney who almost opened the scoring after ten minutes. Joel Griffiths and Brett Emerton combined well to win a corner on the right which Del Piero swung to the back left of the box. The cross was met by Ali Abbas whose shot bounced into the ground and towards Socceroos captain Lucas Neill. However his header was scrambled off the line by Perth keeper Danny Vukovic.
The next chance fell to Perth with 14 minutes gone, when Harold cut in from the left but his shot was straight at Janjetovic who gathered at the second attempt.
Sydney had the contest-s best chance two minutes later when Perth gave the ball away to skipper Terry McFlynn just inside the Sky Blues half. He threaded the ball through to Joel Griffiths who ran clear of the defence but his shot was brilliantly saved down low by Vukovic to his left.
A minute later Del Piero picked the ball up in the midfield and surged forward. The striker fed the unmarked Ali Abbas to his left and the Iraqi-s goal bound shot was blocked by the outstretched boot of a Perth defender.
The pace of the game was frenetic at this point and the first goal came to the home side on 19 minutes. Liam Miller received the ball on a quick Perth counter. The former Manchester United midfielder drew Fabio and fed the unmarked Harold to his right who moved into the box and beat Janjetovic from 12 yards.
Both sides continued to look dangerous and Sydney equalised shortly before the half hour with a goal of outstanding quality. Italian World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero picked up the ball midway inside the Perth half and moved forward to unleash an unstoppable right foot shot into Vukovic-s top corner left hand corner. The 30 yard strike was so impressive it even brought a round of applause from the home fans.
The goal gave Sydney a lift but they weren-t level for long. With just over 10 minutes to go until half time former Sky Blue Scott Jamieson received the ball short from a left wing corner. The full back swung over a cross which evaded everyone, except for Kiwi marksman Shane Smeltz who finished from close range to give the Glory a 2-1 lead at the break.
Sydney had a chance to get back on level terms early in the second half when a lofted ball from Neill into the path of Griffiths gave the striker the chance to shoot, but Vukovic was well positioned to catch the volley.
The Sky Blues were reduced to ten men in the 57th minute when Fabio received his second yellow card of the game after bringing down Harold as the winger latched onto a long ball from the substitute Clisby.
As time drew closer a first time volley from Joel Griffiths from a Chianese a was blocked as it headed towards goal while substitute Terry Antonis forced Vukovic to palm the ball around the post after he hit a long range shot from around 25 yards.
The chance was the closest Sydney had, despite the ten men-s tireless efforts pushing forward which pleased their coach.
The result turns next Saturday evening-s derby with the Central Coast Mariners at Allianz Stadium into an even more vital game as the Sky Blues continue to look towards finals football.
Watch Alessandro's first game at Allianz Stadium since renewing his contract and the Socceroos captain Lucas Neill's home debut for Sydney FC against the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday 9th March (kick off 5.30pm). Sydney will be looking to make it six wins in a row at home. Tickets are available by clicking here from Ticketek.
Sydney FC 1 (Del Piero 28-) def. by Perth Glory 2 (Harold 19-, Smeltz 33-)
nib Stadium Crowd: 8,378 Referee: Strebre Delovski
SYDNEY FC: 20. Vedran JANJETOVIC (GK), 3. FABIO, 7. Brett EMERTON (C), 8. Adam GRIFFITHS, 10. Alessandro DEL PIERO, 15. Terry MCFLYNN, 22. Ali ABBAS (16. Joel CHIANESE 70-), 23. Rhyan GRANT, 26. Peter TRIANTIS (17. Terry ANTONIS 67-), 29. Joel GRIFFITHS, 32. Lucas NEILL.
Substitute not used: 1 Ivan NECEVSKI, 13. Tiago CALVANO,
Yellow Cards: Fabio 13-, 57-; McFlynn 61-; Emerton 73-; Red Cards: Fabio 57-
PERTH GLORY: 1. Danny VUKOVIC (GK), 5. Steve PANTELIDIS (2. Jack CLISBY 38-), 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Liam MILLER, 12. Ryo NAGAI, 14. Steve MCGARRY, 17. Chris HAROLD, 18. Matias CORDOBA (28. Daniel DE SILVA 61-), 19. Josh RISDON, 21. Scott JAMIESON, 23. Michael THWAITE ©
Substitutes not used: 30. Lewis ITALIANO, 15. Brandon O-NEILL.
Yellow Cards: Harold 70-; Miller 87-