Inspired by standout performances to Alex Baumjohan and Miloš Ninković, Sydney FC have extended their lead atop the A-League table with a comprehensive 3-0 drubbing of Melbourne Victory.
Easily snuffing out Victory’s early attempts to get things going, the Harboursiders went ahead through Adam Le Fondre just before the half an hour mark and then never looked challenged.
After Kosta Barbarouses – booed ferociously by the home fans whenever he saw the ball – made it 2-0 the writing was on the wall for the hosts, with the point rammed home in the dying stages when Baumjohan got a deserved goal.
With the Asian Champions League looming, the three points earned serves to consolidate the Sky Blues place atop the A-League table. Victory, on the other hand, are rooted in eighth place with just two points separating them from 10th place Central Coast – who have two games in hand.
.@BJTMarts FT | Another #BigBlue win, 11 points clear on top and a clean sheet to boot 👍@KostaBarb7 & @AlexBaumjohann add to @A1F1E9's first half goal to seal the win!#SydneyIsSkyBlue #WeAreChampions #BigBlue pic.twitter.com/3BUdfOeTby— Sydney FC (@SydneyFC) January 24, 2020
Drawing a free-kick from Ryan McGowan in the seventh minute, Victory’s Toivonen produced the contest’s first clear chance on goal when, from almost the exact same spot that he scored from in the fixture a year ago, he sent a free kick in on goal that Andrew Redmayne comfortably saved.
Redmayne remained unperturbed on Victory’s next chance in the ninth when a shot from Migjen Basha after Toivonen flicked a ball into his path failed to force him to move his feet.
With the benefit of hindsight, though, Victory’s start was the very definition of a false dawn
Floating a ball into the area in that Alex Wilkinson was just unable to nod onward in the 11th minute, the defending champions began to stir. Le Fondre just failed to turn a ball onward successfully after being picked out at close range by Joel King in the 14th.
While Victory saw some early chances, they remained frustrated in attempts to actually create some sort of clear forward strategy – or even a shot that would challenge Redmayne in the Sydney goal.
Meanwhile, despite seeing less of the ball early doors, Sydney remained as dangerous as ever when given a chance to get out and run at their opponents.
A perfect example came in the 19th minute after Andrew Nabbout went on powerful run down the right but had his final touch let him down. The visitors seized on the ball, burst forward with vim and venom, with only a professional foul from Leigh Broxham on Le Fondre stymieing the danger.
It was only a matter of time until the irrepressible machine that is Sydney FC ground away Victory’s resistance and drew first blood.
That blow was struck the 27th when, after a period of sustained pressure, a failed attempt at a clearance fell to Baumjohan just outside the box on the right-wing. The German promptly drove into the area, leave Adama Traore in his wake, and picked out Le Fondre at close range for an easy tap in.
In contrast to Victory, whose moves forward were defined by haphazardness and lack of a clear semblance of a plan, Sydney were looking increasingly lethal with every passing minute; Miloš Ninković stinging the gloves of Thomas with a long-range effort in the 42nd minute.
In a brief showing of life, Traore and Kamsoba were able to work their way through Sydney's right flank and get a ball to Kruse in the area in the final minutes of the first half but the Socceroo winger, with perhaps too much time to think, had his resulting soft shot easily collected by Redmayne.
Despite that chance however, the Sky Blues were clearly walking it.