Sydney FC Remain Top After Enthralling Encounter

Sydney FC 2 (O’Neill 16’, Grant 77’) def. Wellington Phoenix 1 (Davila 69’)

Sydney FC have bagged all three points with a 2-1 win in their first home game of the season against a plucky Wellington Phoenix who were reduced to ten men in the last part of the game.

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Brandon O'Neill on the ball. Photo by Jaime Castaneda (@jamcas50)

Moments That Mattered:

  1. O’Neill Goal - 16’  – O’Neill finds just enough wiggle room in the box to get away a shot which finds the net after a deflection wrong foots the Wellington keeper
  2. Davila Chance – 21’ – Ball’s driven cross hits Davila who can’t control a guilt edged effort within a yard of the goal.
  3. Redmayne Save – 45’ – Ball whips in a cross from the right to find the head of Sotirio but the Sky Blue custodian denies him with a brilliant last gasp save.
  4. Barbarouses Chance – 49’ - Baumjohann splits the Wellington defence to find Barbarouses but his low driven effort is just tipped past the left-hand post.
  5. Ball Chance – 50’ – Wellington come close as the ball plays pinball in the box with Ball’s thunderous effort off the post coming the closest.
  6. Le Fondre Chance – 64’ – Ninkovic goes on a mazy run to find Le Fondre’s feet as he rifles an effort towards goal, stinging the palms of Marinovic.
  7. Davila Goal – 69’ – Wellington find their equaliser through Davila who jinks to the left of Brattan and finds the bottom right-hand corner.
  8. Grant Goal - 77’ – A rare and breathtaking goal from the Sky Blue legend Grant as his looping volley sails over a flapping Marinovic.
  9. Cacace Red Card – 81’ – Cacace is given his marching orders as VAR correctly intervenes for a horror tackle on Caceres.
  10. Ninkovic Chance - 83’ – The midfield master dribbles some 60 yards before narrowly missing the inside of the right post.
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Brandon O'Neill celebrates his opening goal.

The Sky Blues dominated proceedings early on, finding most joy down the right side with Baumjohann and Grant linking well. However, genuine chances were few and far between.

Sydney FC got the break through they deserved through Brandon O’Neill as his deflected effort squeezed past Marinovic.

Redmayne was only called into action at the very end of the first half, producing a world-class save to his left to deny Sotirio the equaliser.

The second stanza of the contest presented a more even flow with the visitors nearly finding themselves on level terms shortly after the restart, denied only by the post.

Wellington would finally find their way through a stern Sydney defence some 20 minutes later with Davila beating an unsighted Redmayne with a low driven effort.

This sprung the Sky Blues into action and it wasn’t long before the lead was restored in extraordinary fashion by Rhyan Grant as his flick from an O’Neill cross looped over a helpless Wellington keeper.

The contest was near dead and buried when Cacace’s crude tackle on Caceres earned him an early shower after VAR correctly reviewed and overturned the non-decision on the field.

Corica’s men continued to look the most threatening for the remaining moments of the match. However, there was to be no addition to the score line as Sydney FC secured all three points, remaining in pole position in the league.

A mouth-watering top of the table Sydney Derby clash awaits the side as they look to take bragging rights of the city once again at BankWest Stadium next Saturday night.

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Rhyan Grant and Brandon O'Neill celebrate the Sky Blues' second goal. Photo by Alen Delic

What they said:

Steve Corica: “It’s a very good three points for us. We played well in patches when we had the ball, and so did they. I think it was a great game.

“First half we dominated with the ball and you need to take your chances. If we did that, we could have made the game a lot easier.

“Defensively you have to be strong and I was pretty pleased the way we defended at times.

“We have a lot of pace upfront and a lot of creative players to finish games off so once we get that right and start scoring goals, it’s going to be good.

[On the Sydney Derby] “It’s going to be tight, it’s full on, it’s physical and we’re looking forward to it.”

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Post-match celebrations with The Cove.

Sydney FC: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 4. Alex WILKINSON, 5. Alexander BAUMJOHANN (17. Anthony CACERES 74’), 6. Ryan McGOWAN, 8. Paulo RETRE (16. Joel KING 89’), 9. Adam Le FONDRE, 10. Milos NINKOVIC, 11. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 13. Brandon O’NEILL, 23. Rhyan GRANT, 26. Luke BRATTAN (18. Luke IVANOVIC 86’)

Subs Not Used: 20. Thomas HEWARD-BELLE, 2. Patrick FLOTTMANN, 21. Harry Van Der SAAG, 27. Jordan SWIBEL.

Yellow Cards: 13. Brandon O’NEILL 51’, 17. Anthony CACERES 90+2’)

Red Cards: None.

Wellington Phoenix: 1. Stefan MARINOVIC (GK), 3. Luke De VERE, 5. Matti STEINMANN (7. Reno PISCOPO 78’), 9. David BALL, 10. Ulises Alejandro Davila PLASCENCIA, 11. Joshua SOTIRIO (31. Benjamin WAINE 85’), 14. Alex RUFFER, 16. Louis FENTON, 21. Callum McCOWATT, 27. Steven TAYLOR.

Subs not used:  20. Oliver SAIL, 4. Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 6. Timothy PAYNE, 8. Cameron DEVLIN.

Yellow Cards: 5. Matti STEINMANN 37’

Red Cards: 13. Liberato CACACE 81’

Ground: Leichhardt Oval

Crowd: 12,536

Referee: Jonathan Barreiro