Sydney FC’s recent resurgence melted in the Melbourne summer heat as they tumbled to a 3-1 loss to Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park today.
Sydney FC-s recent resurgence melted in the Melbourne summer heat as they tumbled to a 3-1 loss to Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park today.
The Sky Blues now find themselves right back in the middle of the top six dogfight, sitting alongside Newcastle and Melbourne Heart in equal 5th position on 27 points.
With Brisbane Roar sitting two points behind in 8th place, next weekend-s trip to Perth is crucial - and they will have to do it without Sebastian Ryall, who was sent off in the 53rd minute of tonight-s game for a last-man challenge.
Sydney FC Coach Frank Farina made four changes to the team that defeated Adelaide United 2-1 with Socceroo Captain Lucas Neill making his Sydney FC debut alongside returning Socceroo team mates Brett Emerton and Joel Griffiths while Paul Reid came into the side for Captain Terry McFlynn, who missed the game with hamstring soreness.
Last week-s goal scorers Terry Antonis and Blake Powell were unlucky to miss out with Antonis joined on the bench by Adam Griffiths and Joel Chianese.
Neither side managed to gain an early ascendency with a cautious opening 30 minutes played primarily in the middle third before Melbourne Heart broke the deadlock in the 31st minute through Nik Kalmar.
The Sky Blues defence failed to clear a harmless cross which was headed back into the danger area for Kalmar to lash home after controlling the ball on the edge of the six-yard box.
The home side took advantage of the momentum swing and scored a second goal just five minutes later when Jonathan Germano fired home after a simple one-two allowed the midfielder to slip behind Tiago Calvano with only Vedran Janjetovic to beat.
Sydney FC managed to stem the tide leading into the half time break and returned from the sheds down 2-0 but with Antonis replacing Paul Reid as Farina looked to add some urgency in attack.
Bad turned to worse in the 53rd minute when Sebastian Ryall was shown a straight red card by referee Alan Milliner when he was adjudged to have brought down David Williams when he was the last man in defence. From the ensuing penalty, Williams made no mistake to give the Heart a 3-0 lead.
The Sky Blues showed they had some fight left when Joel Griffiths scored a great individual goal in the 58th minute that gave the visitors a sniff of hope.
Sydney FC lifted a gear when faced with the tough challenge of mounting a comeback with 10 men and created more chances during the last 30 minutes but it was not to be.
Positives for the Sky Blues included Joel Griffiths- third goal in as many games for Sydney FC as well as the debut of Neill, who got through 90 minutes in humid conditions.
Following Sydney FC-s clash with Perth Glory next weekend, the Sky Blues have back-to-back home games at Allianz Stadium against Central Coast (9 March) and Melbourne Victory (16 March).
Melbourne Heart (Nik Kalmer 31, Jonathan Germano 36, Williams 54 pen) Sydney FC (Joel Griffiths 58) Referee: Alan Milliner Crowd: 13,752.
Sydney FC: 20. Vedran Janjetovic, 2, Sebastian Ryall, 3. Fabio, 7. Brett Emerton, 9. Paul Reid (17. Terry Antonis ‘46), 10. Alessandro Del Piero, 13. Tiago, 23. Rhyan Grant, 26. Peter Triantis, 29. Joel Griffiths (16. Joel Chianese ‘66), 32. Lucas Neill. Subs not used: 1. Ivan Necevski, 8. Adam Griffiths. Yellow cards: Paul Reid 35, Joel Griffiths 46, Tiago 70. Red card: Sebastian Ryall 53
Melbourne Heart: 20. Andrew Redmayne, 4. Simon Colosimo, 8. Matt Thompson, 11. Richard Garcia, 13. Jonathan Germano (16. Macel Meeuwis ‘81), 15. David Williams, 18. David Vrankovic, 21. Jamie Coyne, 22. Nick Kalmar (5. Fred ‘66), 25. Jeremy Walker, 36. Eli Babalj (14. Golgol Mebrahtu ‘72). Sub not used: 1. Clint Bolton. Yellow cards: Jonathan Germano 35, David Williams 91.
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 current league leaders Central Coast Mariners on Saturday 9th March (kick off 5.30pm) when Sydney will look to make it six wins in a row at home. Tickets are available by clicking here from Ticketek.