BY JIMMY RAYNE
Sydney FC subdued by Brisbane
Brisbane Roar put Sydney FC to the sword on Thursday night, as the last round of the regular season opened up with a bang. Both teams were fighting for a finals spot, but Brisbane outclassed Sydney 3-1 in an entertaining affair at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Sydney started the game by giving away possession cheaply during the early stages of the first half. But it wasn’t long before they had a good spell of pressure, forcing Brisbane to drop back defensively.
It was an even tussle for the majority of the first half with both sides looking dangerous in attack. However, the 29th minute saw an absent-minded pass by Alessandro Del Piero picked up by the Roar. The ball was crossed into the centre to find an unmarked Besart Berisha who made no mistakes and gave Brisbane a 1-0 lead.
Just before half time, a brilliant move by Sydney FC checkmated Brisbane’s defence to see Sydney in scoring position. However, a controversial off side call halted the attack, foiling what seemed to be a certain equaliser.
It was only six minutes into the second half before another poor defensive play cost Sydney another goal. A loose pass by Sebastian Ryall was picked up by Brisbane on the right, and found its way to Steven Lustica who finished to make it 2-0.
Some resilient Brisbane defence kept a relentless Sydney FC scoreless for most of the second half. Jade North was particularly outstanding. Then in 79th minute, a rare attack by Brisbane saw Ivan Franjic curl his shot into the top corner to give Brisbane a 3-0 lead.
Sydney managed to score a consolation goal five minutes later when a foul on Joel Griffiths saw Del Piero step to score from the penalty spot. But it was too little too late for the sky blues, who let their final series destiny slip out of their grasp. Brisbane live to fight another day and defend their title.
Brisbane Roar 3 (Besart Berisha 29′, Steven Lustica 51′, Ivan Franjic 79′)
Sydney FC 1 (Alessandro Del Piero 84′)
Man of the match: Jade North
Wanderers’ Premier performance
The Western Sydney Wanderers wrapped up the Premier’s Plate on Good Friday witnessed by over 7,000 travelling supporters. The fledgling club continues to surpass expectations and set new standards of excellence, thumping the Newcastle Jets 3-0 in Newcastle.
The match was only six minutes old before the Jets were already exposed. A Tarek Elrich ball from right back saw it cut back across the face of goal for Mark Bridge to tap it in at the far post and give Western Sydney a 1-0 lead.
The Wanderers were impressive, particularly in transition as the Jets were continually forced to scramble back in defence on every break. They looked nervy for most of the first half, making it easier for Western Sydney to dominate.
The 33rd minute saw a Dino Kressinger header flicked on for Bridge to race through and calmly chip the ball over the keeper, doubling his team’s lead.
The start of the second half saw more possession from Newcastle, but they were still unconvincing. The Jets were missing some much needed spark, but eventually they stepped up a gear and made the game more competitive. The Wanderers defence was disciplined and managed to quell any pressure that the Jets could generate.
In the 80th minute, a short corner from Western Sydney was teed up by Rocky Visconte who unleashed an unstoppable drive that sailed into the top corner to put the game beyond Newcastles reach.
The full time whistle was met with scenes of jubilation. The celebrations however, like everything this season, were not in excess. The Wanderers now firmly set their sights on their finals campaign as they aim to complete the double in what has been a historic season.
Newcastle Jets 0
Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Mark Bridge 6′ 33′, Rocky Visconte 80′)
Man of the match: Mark Bridge