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Jan 13, 2024   |  10:40PM AET

Sky Blues Comeback Not Enough

Sky Blues Comeback Not Enough

A late Sky Blues comeback wasn’t enough to salvage a point for Sydney FC who were on the wrong side of a seven-goal thriller in the A-Leagues Unite Round at the Allianz Stadium, as Adelaide United claimed a 4-3 win.

Adelaide United 4 (Ibusuki 24’, 35’, 73’, Irankunda 45’) def. Sydney FC 3 (Caceres 7’, Lolley 76’, 90’)

Moments That Mattered

7’ – CACERES GOAL – After starting well, Sydney take the lead as Caceres finishes well from Grant’s through-ball.

Sydney FC celebrate Anthony Caceres’ opening goal. Photo: Jaime Castaneda

11’ – FABIO CHANCE – Hollman wins possession high up the pitch and finds Caceres, who squares for Fabio but his close-range shot finds a way over the crossbar.

24’ – IBUSUKI GOAL – Against the run of play, Ibusuki taps in Halloran’s square pass to equalise.

Hiroshi Ibusuki nets the equaliser

35’ – IBUSUKI GOAL – Ibusuki is again set up by Halloran, turning inside and finding the net for his second.

45’ – IRANKUNDA GOAL – Ibusuki’s ball goes deep for Irankunda, whose shot makes it over the line on the stroke of half-time.

71’ – WOOD DISALLOWED GOAL – Wood taps in Courtney-Perkins’ pass straight after entering the pitch, but is denied by the offside flag.

73’ – IBUSUKI GOAL – Ibusuki heads his hat-trick goal, connecting with Clough’s cross.

76’ – LOLLEY GOAL – Lolley and Wood combine for a goal back from close range, which survives a lengthy VAR check.

90’ – LOLLEY GOAL – Lolley’s strike takes a heavy deflection to take it into the net late into second-half stoppage time to pull another back.

What They Said: Ufuk Talay: “In the first 10-15 minutes, we should have been 2-0 up, maybe three.

“I think that’s been the story so far since I’ve been here, we create those chances but we don’t capitalise on those moments. We were a little bit naive defensively with the goals we conceded and sloppy at times.

“In the second half, I asked the boys to show a bit of character to get themselves back into the game, and the fourth goal killed us, making the task very difficult. We still kept going, we scored a couple more goals, but I’m still disappointed when we look at the stats. The most important one is the result.”

Rhyan Grant bursts down the wing after setting up the opener

Match Report: The A-Leagues Unite Round ended on a losing note for Sydney FC’s men at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday evening, suffering a 4-3 defeat to Adelaide United.

Despite taking an early lead through Anthony Caceres and fighting back from 4-1 down through Joe Lolley’s late double, the damage was done by the SA side through Hiroshi Ibusuki’s hat-trick and Nestory Irankunda’s strike.

With the Sydney injury list growing, Ufuk Talay shuffled his pack slightly, as Caceres, along with Corey Hollman and Zac de Jesus, came into the side.

And after a fast start which saw two attempts at goal in the opening minute, it only took seven minutes for the opener, with Caceres on the scoresheet, finishing neatly with the outside of his boot from Rhyan Grant’s pinpoint ball.

The away side playing on home turf continued their bright start in the opening stages, and passed up a golden chance to make it two inside 11 minutes as Hollman pressed and won the ball high, playing in Caceres who found Fabio Gomes with the goalkeeper committed – the Brazilian firing over the bar.

And against the run of play, a clinical Adelaide side made the Sky Blues pay as they turned the game on its head, courtesy of their Japanese frontman.

The equaliser came midway through the first half when he tapped in Benjamin Halloran’s pass, as Halloran escaped the offside line.

Players line up during the A-League Men Unite Round match between Adelaide United and Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium, on January 13, 2024, in Sydney, Australia.

And with 10 minutes to the break Sydney fell behind, the same two players combining as Ibusuki turned inside and found the back of the net with a left-footed strike.

Deep into first-half stoppage time, it got worse for Talay’s men, as Irankunda added his name to the scoresheet, his shot just finding its way over the line to lap up Ibusuki’s low cross to the back post.

Occasional chances scattered across the second half as Sydney sought a much-needed response, Jaiden Kucharski’s low drive tipped behind by James Delianov in the Adelaide goal, before substitute Max Burgess whipped an effort just wide.

Halloran shot wide from a 1v1 but saw his blushes spared by the offside flag, before Andrew Redmayne reacted to deny Zach Clough.

But two minutes later, immediately after Pat Wood was denied an instant impact goal by the assistant’s flag, Clough would pick out the towering Ibusuki, whose accurate header completed his hat-trick.

Sydney were far from finished, despite the three-goal deficit – it certainly wouldn’t last long. Lolley and Wood combined for the Englishman to steer over the line from close range for 4-2.

And in the dying seconds, Lolley’s shot from distance was taken into the net by a heavy deflection for a glimmer of hope at the Allianz.

It proved to be too little too late in what ended a seven-goal thriller, with the Sky Blues unfortunately on the wrong side.

Next week provides ample opportunity to regain winning momentum, as Sydney take on Newcastle Jets on home soil next Friday night.

Anthony Caceres of Sydney FC controls the ball.

Sydney FC: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 8. Jake GIRDWOOD-REICH, 9. Fabio GOMES (22. Max BURGESS 62’), 10. Joe LOLLEY, 12. Corey HOLLMAN (19. Mitch GLASSON 86’), 15. Gabriel LACERDA, 17. Anthony CACERES, 21. Zac DE JESUS (4. Jordan COURTNEY-PERKINS 46’), 23. Rhyan GRANT, 25. Jaiden KUCHARSKI (13. Pat WOOD 70’), 26. Luke BRATTAN ©.

Unused Subs: 20. Adam PAVLESIC (GK), 18. Matthew SCARCELLA, 28. Nathan AMANATIDIS.

Yellow Cards: Brattan (42’)

Red Cards: None

Adelaide United: 1. James DELIANOV (GK), 8. ISAIAS, 9. Hiroshi IBUSUKI (27. Josh CAVALLO 74’), 10. Zach CLOUGH (42. Austin AYOUBI 86’), 21. Javi LOPEZ (7. Ryan KITTO 86’), 22. Ryan TUNNICLIFFE, 26. Benjamin HALLORAN, 37. Jonny YULL (23. Luke DUZEL 74’), 41. Alexandar POPOVIC, 43. Giuseppe BOVALINA, 66. Nestory IRANKUNDA (17. Luka JOVANOVIC 66’).

Unused Subs: 50. Steven HALL (GK), 3. Benjamin WARLAND.

Yellow Cards: Cavallo (90’)

Red Cards: None

Venue: Allianz Stadium

Referee: Alex King