Sydney FC fell to a narrow 3-2 defeat against Melbourne Victory in the opening round of the 2022/23 Isuzu UTE A-League season as the Sky Blues returned home to Allianz Stadium.
New signing Róbert Mak opened the scoring for the home side in front of nearly 22,000 fans as he expertly finished past Paul Izzo in the Victory goal following a neat one-two play with Patrick Yazbek.
Victory then pulled it back to 1-1 in the 31st minute as striker Nicholas D’Agostino scored a glancing header to the bottom right corner of the goal following a corner.
The visitors went in front midway through the second half as Stefan Nigro split the Sydney defence for Nani to supply Chris Ikonomidis at the back post.
Sydney FC fought back strongly and found an equaliser in the form of James Donachie as the defender leapt tall to head in a scrumptious Diego Caballo cross from a set-piece down the left wing.
However Melbourne found the winner late on in the 83rd minute as ex-Sydney FC midfielder Josh Brillante tapped home centrally in the box following a quick Victory counterattack.
As it happened…
Sydney FC started the match with strong attacking intent as debutants Róbert Mak and Joe Lolley threatened down the wings in the opening minutes – with Victory’s Nicholas D’Agostino utilising his pace to stretch the Sydney FC defence.
Both teams remained organised during the early stages of the match and the Sky Blues committed numbers forward when in possession as midfielder Patrick Yazbek persisted to make forward runs.
Eventually Sydney FC’s attacking endeavour paid-off as Róbert Mak opened his A-League account in style – turning his defender and cutting inside from the left wing to play a one-two with Patrick Yazbek and curl home effortlessly into the bottom right corner of the net.
Lolley continued to cause havoc down Victory’s left-hand side as Rhyan Grant asserted himself in defence – intercepting and sticking tight to Luís Nani to prevent the evasive winger attacking space.
Despite Sydney FC’s resolute defensive start, Nicholas D’Agostino equalised for the visitors in the 31st minute, smartly directing a header past the outstretched glove of Andrew Redmayne following a dangerous Ben Folami cross.
The Sky Blues responded well however as Róbert Mak sprayed a delightful cross-field pass to Joe Lolley on the right wing – with the Englishman smacking a powerful shot against the upright of Paul Izzo’s goal.
Sydney continued to press Victory high up the field to win the ball back in attacking areas as Róbert Mak saw a late first-half effort deflect just wide of the right post.
The start of the second half brought a more fiery encounter as the Sky Blues took the game to the visitors – piling on the pressure through Lolley as he continued to probe down the right wing and get crosses into the box.
An accidental clash of heads between Sydney FC defender Rhyan Grant and referee Chris Beath saw both needing treatment
Sydney’s pressure however was thwarted by Victory’s Ikonomidis in the 67th minute as Stefan Nigro slipped Nani in down the right side to fizz a low cross for the second half substitute to slot home at the back post.
The Sky Blues then rallied and not long after, defender James Donachie climbed high in the 79th minute to meet a Caballo cross perfectly to head-in and gift the home team life.
Both teams pushed tirelessly for the win as the Cove willed Steve Corica’s men forward but Victory would have the last say as captain Josh Brillante scored an 83rd minute winner following a rapid counterattack.
A close loss to start the A-League season for Sydney FC – however the attacking nature of the Sky Blues play will give the hosts confidence heading into next week’s away trip to Western United.
What They Said:
“I think there was a lot of positive out of the game, I thought we played really well, switched off at a couple of moments as you can see at the back post with their balls across the face of the goal.
“In general we probably dominated the game, we created the better chances I think, I was happy with the way the performance was, a lot of positives out of it.
“Robbie [Robert] Mak scored a great goal, Joe [Lolley] looked dangerous, he made some good movement, some good forward runs, we kept the ball quite well in tough conditions as well I think, maybe we could’ve had a penalty late on as well.”