Sydney FC has come from behind to record its fifth consecutive win over Melbourne Victory and rectify last week’s derby loss.
A piece of individual brilliance from Milos Ninkovic cancelled out Marco Rojas’ second goal of the season in the 43rd minute, before the floodgates opened midway through the second half which saw the Sky Blues score twice in two minutes.
Despite Rojas opening the scoring, this tale of two Kiwis went the way of the Sky Blues as Kosta Barbarouses netted Sydney’s fourth from the penalty spot – awarded after Tim Hoogland had been sent off for a shove on Trent Buhargiar.
Barbarouses may have received all the attention from the Victory fans, but it was his All-Whites teammate who drew first blood.
After netting his first goal of the season last week, Marco Rojas continued where he left off – bringing the Big Blue to life five minutes in.
The 28-year-old pounced on a loose ball – after Storm Roux dispossessed Milos Ninkovic – to burst through a sea of Sky Blue and smash the ball past Andrew Redmayne in the fifth minute to give the Victory the lead.
Barbarouses nearly responded in the best possible way ten minutes later when he was played through by Ninkovic on the edge of the area, only for his attempt to drift wide.
With Sydney coming off a midweek Champions League draw, the Victory looked to take full advantage of their extra rest – creative several chances inside the opening 20 minutes.
Andrew Nabbout looked to have regained his confidence – swinging a perfect cross in for a rising Ola Toivonen in the 17th minute – one the Swedish international won yet failed to direct on target – before Rojas nearly added a second from a goal-mouth scramble in the 21st minute, in a frantic passage which saw Toivonen and Elvis Kamsoba have shots blocked.
At the other end Luke Brattan was nearly rewarded for an audacious set-piece attempt when his 30 yard dead ball strike nearly flew into the back of the met after taking a deflection off Nabbout’s head in the wall.
Meanwhile it was the same old story for Kamsoba, who was with his head in his hands after another opportunity to score his first A-League goal went begging.
The Burundi international found space down the right wing and had Victory fans on their feet as they saw the ball whiz past Andrew Redmayne at the near post, only to come to the realisation it was another false alarm.
Those woes were quickly exacerbated as the Sky Blues took punished the Victory for their inaccuracy – with this coming in the form a Ninkovic finish draped in class.
Receiving the ball on the penalty spot from a Barbarouses pass, Ninkovic cut the ball onto his right – a move which sent Roux sliding the other way – allowing the former Serbian international to pick his spot and equalise in the 43rd minute.
In true Sydney FC fashion, the Sky Blues nearly scored a second minutes later with Adam Le Fondre’s lunging attempt going over the crossbar on the cusp of half-time, after Roux’s header across goal fell into the path of the Englishman.
The visitors did not have to wait long after the break for another chance to take the lead.
It was Ninkovic again causing problems for the Victory, with the Serbian making a late run into the box to head Rhyan Grant’s cross, only to be denied by Lawrence Thomas who blocked the almost certain goal with his feet.
Despite Thomas’ heroics, there was nothing he could do about Anthony Caceres’ left-footed rocket to give the Sky Blues the lead.
It was a short corner routine which undid the Victory in the 64th minute, with Grant finding an unmarked Caceres on the edge of the area whose strike can be likened to something seen on FIFA, as the ball flew past Thomas, off the post and in.
The Victory barely had any time to lick its wounds as the Sky Blues added the salt and thus seal its fifth consecutive win over the Victory when Le Fondre buried his 16th goal of the season in the 66th minute.
The goal coming off the counter, moments after a failed Victory penalty shout, with Luke Brattan surging forward and playing Le Fondre through.
Despite Giancarlo Gallifuoco getting back in time he was unable to clear the ball off the line, with the Victory centre back studding the ball into the back of the net as it was crossing the line.
Just when one thought things could not get any worse for the Victory, the home side was reduced to ten men after Tim Hoogland was giving his marching orders for a shove on a surging Trent Buhargiar inside the box in the 85th minute.
Despite two minutes of VAR consultation, the decision was upheld and Barbarouses put the nail in the coffin.
The win sees the Sky Blues extend its lead atop of the league to 13 points, while the Victory miss the opportunity to close the gap with the top six.
MELBOURNE VICTORY 1 (Rojas 5′)
SYDNEY FC 4 (Ninkovic 43′, Caceres 64′, Le Fondre 66′, Barbarouses 87′ (P))
RED CARD: Tim Hoogland 85′
Featured Image; Melbourne Victory FC
Lawrence Thomas (GK), Storm Roux, James Donachie, Tim Hoogland, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Leigh Broxham (Anthony Lesiotis 77′), Migjen Basha, Elvis Kamsoba, Marco Rojas (Kenny Athiu 75′), Ola Toivonen (C), Andrew Nabbout
Matthew Acton, Birkan Kirdar, Brandon Lauton, So Nishikawa, Ben Carrigan,
Andrew Redmayne (GK), Alex Wilkinson, Ryan McGowan, Paulo Retre, Adam Le Fondre (Trent Buhargiar 85′), Milos Ninkovic (Marco Tilio 90′), Kosta Barbarouses, Joel King, Anthony Caceres, Rhyan Grant, Luke Brattan (Alex Baumjohann 88′)
Thomas Heward-Belle, Ben Warland, Harry Van Der Saag