Big Blue For Sky Blues

Sydney FC suffered their first defeat in 12 games as they started their Isuzu UTE A-League Men season with a loss going down 2-0 to Melbourne Victory.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Fornaroli 62’, Machach 86’) def. Sydney FC 0

Joe Lolley sees one go narrowly wide.

Moments That Mattered

38’ – VELUPILLAY CHANCE – Victory break through and create their best of several first-half chances, as Velupillay diverts Traore’s cutback just wide.

43’ – LACERDA HEADER – Lacerda rises highest to meet Lolley’s corner delivery, but Izzo keeps out the header down to his left.

62’ – FORNAROLI GOAL – Brattan appears to be fouled but the referee continues play, and Fornaroli sends an accurate finish into the corner.

86’ – MACHACH GOAL – Machach creates a yard of space on his left foot and fires into the bottom corner.

Allianz Stadium looking blue and immense.

What They Said: Steve Corica: “It wasn’t our night. The individual errors cost us – I thought we had more of the ball and more chances, but they took their chances.

“We made a couple of mistakes we wouldn’t usually make, and they’re costly. First games of the season tend to be very tight, and it was up to our mistakes.

“I thought we got into good areas but we were a lot better in the final third in the [Australia Cup] run than we were here. They defended well – they’re a good team that are difficult to beat. We need to be better next week – it’s early on and I do think we played well with the ball – but we need to pick up points in Brisbane.”

Flying Robbie Mak who has just returned from Europe from international duty.

Match Report:

Sydney FC tasted a bitter pill to start the 2023-24 A-League Men season on Saturday night, as Melbourne Victory won the ‘Big Blue’ clash 2-0 at the Allianz Stadium.

Second-half goals from Bruno Fornaroli and Zinedine Machach sealed the win for the visitors to take back to Victoria.

Victory played with creativity and adventure during the first half, and could have taken the lead, as Andrew Redmayne was called into action from close range, and other shots went off target.

Daniel Arzani arrived at the back post to divert into the side netting from Nishan Velupillay’s pinpoint ball from the left, and the best chance for the visitors came when Velupillay himself should have scored after slightly miscuing Adama Traore’s cutback inches past the post.

Sydney FC took a bigger foothold late in the half, and Paul Izzo had to make a smart save from Gabriel Lacerda, a diving stop to his left denying the Brazilian a first goal in Sky Blue with a header from Joe Lolley’s corner.

Lacerda (right) almost opened his account for the Sky Blues.

The hosts utilised the athleticism of Lolley down the right, the Englishman getting in behind late in the half, but not managing to pick out a teammate in the box as Victory cleared.

The second half also began quite openly, and a crucial block from Jake Girdwood-Reich potentially denied an opener when Machach found space in the Sydney box.

At the other end, Luke Brattan arrowed a strike just over the crossbar, before Redmayne was called into action again – standing firm to thwart Rai Marchan’s shot from 10 yards.

Just before the hour mark, an encouraging break from Steve Corica’s side saw Anthony Caceres pick out Robert Mak, who opened up his body and sent a side-footed effort just off target from the edge of the area.

Lolley rifled a shot just wide from a free kick.

But it was Victory who drew first blood 62 minutes in, taking their next chance with aplomb. There were question marks over a potential foul on Brattan just outside the Sky Blues’ area, but the referee deemed the challenge to be a legal ball win, enabling veteran Fornaroli to tuck away the strike.

Sydney looked to respond immediately, with Corica making a double substitution to introduce Pat Wood and Jaiden Kucharski. A free-kick won 25 yards from goal was then taken by Brattan, hitting the wall and coming back to Lolley, who sent a sweet hit just the wrong side of the far post.

After another effort from Brattan and a strike off target from Victory’s Damien da Silva, the visitors broke forward regularly and after Fornaroli could only scoop a close-range shot onto the roof of the net, they did make it two as Machach drilled in a left-footed shot to cushion the lead for Tony Popovic’s side.

Sydney FC crowding the ball.

The score remained 2-0 as the game petered to its end, and the Sky Blues must now look to recover in the first of three straight away games, at Brisbane Roar on Friday night.

Sydney FC: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 4. Jordan COURTNEY-PERKINS, 8. Jake GIRDWOOD-REICH, 9. Fabio GOMES (13. Pat WOOD 66’), 10. Joe LOLLEY, 11. Robert MAK (25. Jaiden KUCHARSKI 66’), 15. Gabriel LACERDA, 17. Anthony CACERES, 22. Max BURGESS (19. Mitch GLASSON 83’), 23. Rhyan GRANT, 26. Luke BRATTAN ©.

Unused Subs: 20. Adam PAVLESIC (GK), 3. Aaron GURD, 21. Zac DE JESUS, 29. Joe LACEY.

Yellow Cards: Brattan (35’), Grant (78’)

Red Cards: None

Melbourne Victory: 20. Paul IZZO (GK), 2. Jason GERIA (16. Stefan NIGRO 89’), 3. Adama TRAORE, 4. Rai MARCHAN (14. Connor CHAPMAN 79’), 5. Damien DA SILVA, 8. Zinedine MACHACH (22. Jake BRIMMER 89’), 10. Bruno FORNAROLI, 17. Nishan VELUPILLAY (11. Gbenga FOLAMI 79’), 19. Daniel ARZANI (7. Chris IKONOMIDIS 66’), 21. Roderick MIRANDA ©, 25. Ryan TEAGUE.

Unused Subs: 40. Christian SICILIANO (GK), 18. Fabian MONGE.

Yellow Cards: Da Silva (48’), Marchan (76’), Ikonomidis (90’)

Red Cards: None

Venue: Allianz Stadium

Referee: Daniel Elder

Attendance: 14,586