Melbourne Victory’s hopes of playing finals football have been all but dashed after old foes Sydney FC rode a dominant second half to a 4-1 win and made it three wins from three in the 2019/20 Big Blue series.
Belying what was soon to come, Victory took the lead in just the fifth minute of Saturday evening’s contest after a piece of individual brilliance from Marco Rojas broke the game open.
Seizing upon a loose ball after Storm Roux nipped in to poke it away from Milos Ninković, the Kiwi attacker turned and drove towards goal, split Paulo Retre and Luke Brattan, rounded Alex Wilkinson with ease and hammered an effort beyond Andrew Redmayne.
Victory had further chances to add to their lead, Ola Toivonen putting a close-range header over the bar in the 18th minute and Rojas putting a shot over the bar in the 21st, but their best chance to make it 2-0 came in the 42nd minute.
Breaking into the Sydney penalty area after picking out an attempted diagonal ball from Ryan McGowan, Elvis Kamsoba spurned a golden opportunity to double his side’s lead when he hammered his subsequent right-footed effort wide.
A minute later he and his side were duly punished when Ninković, after being found inside the area by Kosta Barbarouses, sold some candy to Roux and slid an equaliser home.
Having blunted the Victory assault, Sydney then turned on the jets in the second half.
They made it 2-1 in the 64th minute when a short corner routine eventually allowed Anthony Caceres to blast in an effort off the far post and in and it was 3-1 two minutes later when Adam le Fondre, despite the best efforts of Giancarlo Gallifuoco, dinked a shot over the top of Lawrence Thomas after being found by Rhyan Grant in transition.
Adding insult to injury, a late infusion of the pace and power of Trent Buhagiar off the bench won Sydney a penalty when, unable to run with the 22-year-old, Tim Hoogland brought down the Sydney substitute inside the area.
As the German marched off after seeing a red for the challenge, Barbarouses struck two to make it four.
“We didn’t have to change too much [at halftime],” Sydney gaffer Steve Corica said post-game. “I was pretty pleased.