Resurgent Sydney FC bounce back in thrilling derby

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A late brace from Trent Buhagiar has shot Sydney FC up to fourth on the A-League Men ladder in a Sydney Derby which did not disapoint.

The Sky Blues battled their way to a nail-biting 3-2 win against arch rivals Western Sydney Wanderers, reclaiming their lead on the night thanks to a double from Buhagiar.

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It took just two minutes for Adam Le Fondre to lash it past Daniel Margush off a handy through ball from Buhagiar down the wing, placing it through the legs of defender Phillip Cancar to make it 1-0.

The Sky Blues continued to dominate in attack in the following minutes, with Buhagiar’s presence up front looming large on the Wanderers’ centre-back duo of Cancar and Tomislav Mrcela and Rhyan Grant easily outmuscling Adam Traore on the byline.

However, against the run of play, the Wanderers found an equaliser just fifteen minutes after the opener. Callum Talbot and Milos Ninkovic failed to deal with an in-swinging corner before Tomer Hemed buried his right-footed volley off the Sky Blues’ defensive blunder.

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Talbot tried one himself not long after with a right-footed drive which seemed destined for the near post, but forced an excellent save from Margush.

Sydney were denied a second close to the half-hour mark after Grant was deemed out of play before crossing into the box, despite a sensational volley from Ninkovic.

The first half ended with little in the way of opportunities for either side, with the exception of a cracking Dimitri Petratos strike in the 38th minute which just fizzled past the post of Sydney debutant Adam Pavlesic.

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As the Wanderers seized the momentum, Petratos struck once again early in the second half with a side-footed effort comfortably saved down the centre of the goal by Pavlesic, whilst James Troisi’s running shot in the 65th minute was sent to the stands.

Just moments later, an incisive Ninkovic through ball paved the way for Kosta Barbarouses to work his magic on the wing, with the resultant grounded-cross finding Buhagiar, who finished emphatically from close range to restore Sydney’s lead.

In the 70th minute, Buhagiar netted the 12th goal of his career and his second on the night after Paulo Retre threaded it through to the former Mariner off a fast break, before unleashing into the top corner to make it 3-1.

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Seemingly out of nowhere, the Wanderers bit back just four minutes later thanks to a perfectly weighted Keanu Baccus long ball, which was met by a leaping Tate Russell, who put just enough power behind the header to put it over the head of Pavlesic.

The Wanderers kept knocking on the door in the dying minutes, with Thomas Aquilina’s piledriver from outside the box being smashed against the upright.

A dramatic six minutes of stoppage time saw Sydney’s Grant exit the pitch for a second yellow, as well as a driven shot from Baccus forcing a heroic save from debutant Pavlesic.

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But it was ultimately too little too late for the red and black, who slumped to their ninth defeat of the season, whilst the Sky Blues equalled their draw and loss count with their seventh win, climbing to fourth on the ALM ladder in the process.

Sydney FC: 3 (Le Fondre 2′, Buhagiar 66′, 71′)

Western Sydney Wanderers: 2 (Hemed 17′, Russell 75′)

Stadium: Netsrata Jubilee Stadium (Sydney)

Referee: Alireza Faghani

Assistant Referees: Lance Greenshields, Andrej Giev

Fourth Official: Stephen Lucas

Sydney FC: Adam PAVLESIC (GK), Rhyan GRANT, James DONACHIE, Alexander WILKINSON (C), Callum TALBOT, Paulo RETRE, Patrick YAZBEK, Milos NINKOVIC, Kosta BARBAROUSES (Max BURGESS 76′), Adam LE FONDRE (Luciano NARSINGH 76′), Trent BUHAGIAR (Mustafa AMINI 87′)

Unused Subs: Max VARTULL (GK), Benjamin WARLAND, BOBO, Anthony CACERES

Western Sydney Wanderers: Daniel MARGUSH (GK), Adama TRAORE, Phillip CANCAR, Tomislav MRCELA, Thomas AQUILINA, James TROISI, Keanu BACCUS, Terry ANTONIS, Dimitri PETRATOS, Tomer HEMED, Keijiro OGAWA (Bernie IBINI 94′)

Unused Subs: Tomas MEJIAS (GK), Ziggy GORDON, Jack RODWELL, Steven UGARKOVIC, Tate RUSSELL, Alessandro LOPANE

Feature Image Credit: Jaime Castaneda

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Jimmy Alexander
Jimmy Alexander
Covering Sydney FC for the 2021/22 A-League season. Studying a Bachelor of Sports Media (Journalism) at Charles Sturt University.

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