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.
“With the [Victory] goal we were a little bit sloppy, of course, but it took us a little while to get going.
“But we definitely dominated the game, definitely was outstanding character to come back. Very pleased for the boys.
“It’s been a tough week, three games in a week is never easy, especially after a loss against the Wanderers last week, everyone was waiting to see how we would go – especially with a difficult game in the ACL on Wednesday.
“I thought we were physically fitter than them, we were stronger and full credit to our strength and conditioning, head of high performance, the boys were outstanding.”
Victory boss Carlos Salvachúa, conversely, was in a dour mood post-game – cutting a more downcast figure in the Victory press conference on Saturday night than he has after any previous loss.
“I think that the problem was that we didn’t respect the structure in the second half,” the Victory boss said.
“It’s totally different, the defensive structure. And when you are playing like a team like in the first-half the team can support you.
“But if you want to play individually you just depend on your quality and in the second half, we saw a big difference in the quality. We created the same number of chances, but we didn’t score.
“And we opened the game for them because we stopped doing the movements like in the first half.
“The team without a structure is not a team, it’s just individual players.”
The Sky Blue Machine Rolls On
Sydney’s strength throughout the season has been built upon their mental indefatigability; Corica’s side able to find a way to deliver three points regardless of whether their performance was good, middling or even poor.
Indeed, one could even describe Sydney as operating in the Jason Vorhees mould: if you think you’ve done enough to put them down, you probably haven’t and when you turn your back after failing to deliver the coup de grâce, they will strike.
Such was the case for Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.
Taking an early lead thanks to Rojas’s moment of early brilliance, the hosts were doing a decent enough job of soaking up the Sky Blue onslaught and, despite surrounding the majority of possession and field position, doing enough to deny their foes clear goalscoring opportunities.
But, in a moment that would be humorous if it wasn’t so maddeningly predictable, Kamsoba’s inability to make it 2-0 in the 43rd minute was immediately punished up the other end when Ninković fired home.
Even before that moment, the side in navy blue had created, despite seeing less of the ball, more clear-cut chances but had been unable to deliver a moral blow and probably should have been two or three goals to the good.
But if you don’t punish Sydney you will be punished, and the defending A-League champions once again showed why the road to the 2019/20 A-League championship goes through them with their blistering second-half.
“It’s a bit of everything,” Corica said on his side’s mental strength.
“It’s the belief they have in their players and staff, [and the belief the staff] have in the players – and it shows.
“We have a lot of experienced players but also a lot of younger boys. The senior players really teach the younger ones the right way to do it.
“And you can see when the younger ones come on as well, they were outstanding. They created, gave us legs as well. Obviously, Trent [Buhagiar] created the last goal.
“It’s just installed in the club and the culture that we have that that’s the way we do it.”