Melbourne City FC suffered its first defeat of the Hyundai A-League campaign after suffering a 3-0 reverse against Sydney FC on Friday night.
Paulo Retre’s neat flick and Adam Le Fondre’s second-half brace condemned Warren Joyce’s side to defeat in-front of 12,086 fans who flocked to AAMI Park for City’s first home match of the season.
Dario Vidosic came closest to restoring parity before Le Fondre’s strike with a powerful header that was thwarted by Sydney ‘keeper Andrew Redmayne from close range, but City was ultimately unable to break down a resolute Sydney in what was a hard-fought encounter.
Warren Joyce’s side will look to bounce back at home in their next league fixture against Wellington Phoenix on November 9.
Joyce made only two changes to the line-up which earned a point on the road against the Central Coast Mariners in Round 2.
Vidosic was rewarded for his goal-scoring exploits in Gosford with a starting berth ahead of Lachie Wales, while captain Scott Jamieson returned to take the armband in place of Iacopo La Rocca.
It was a perfect evening for football at AAMI Park in a clash many viewed as a prelude to a future Finals Series Encounter. City, who were unbeaten at home in its past three league fixtures, were determined to maintain its unbeaten start to the season against a Sydney outfit fronting up for its third game in only six days.
That perceived physical advantage was quickly snuffed out inside the opening quarter of an hour as the visitors silenced the home crowd with the game’s opening goal.
It was a moment of instinct from former City man Retre which did the damage, with the midfielder deftly diverting Rhyan Grant’s driven ball past Eugene Galekovic with a neat back-heel.
Milos Ninkovic missed a golden chance to make it 2-0 only moments later, skiing an effort high and wide from a dangerous position inside the penalty area. That let-off sparked City into action as Luke Brattan fizzed a piledriver just wide of Andrew Redmayne’s left post, in what was City’s only main chance of the opening half.
Joyce’s men were always in the contest and nearly restored parity only minutes after the restart through the towering presence of Vidosic, who could only head Jamieson’s whipped cross straight at a startled Redmayne from point-blank range.
That missed chance proved to be costly, however, as the prolific Le Fondre doubled Sydney’s lead on the hour mark. It was Retre who turned provider, combining well with Grant before slipping Le Fondre through, who made no mistake with a deft chip over the onrushing Galekovic.
City kept searching for a way back into the contest, with Schenkeveld coming closest with a header that flied narrowly wide of the top corner, until Le Fondre completed his brace to put the icing on the cake for the visitors.
Hyundai A-League Round 3
Friday 2 November 2018
Melbourne City FC
Sydney FC 2 (Paulo RETRE 16’, Adam LE FONDRE 61’, 90+2)
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Melbourne City FC: 18. Eugene GALEKOVIC (GK), 2. Ritchie De LAET, 3. Scott JAMIESON, 4. Harrison DELBRIDGE, 5. Bart SCHENKEVELD, 8. Riley McGREE, 10. Dario VIDOSIC (19. Lachlan WALES 63’), 15. Kearyn BACCUS (7.Rostyn GRIFFITHS 72’), 23. Bruno FORNAROLI, 26. Luke BRATTAN (17. Anthony CACERES 72’), 27. Florin BERENGUER
Substitutes not used: 1. Mark BIRIGHITTI (GK), 25. Iacopo LA ROCCA
Yellow cards: Delbridge 26’, Jamieson 45, McGree 75,
Red cards: nil
Sydney FC: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 4. Alex WILKINSON, 5. Jop Van Der Linden, 6. Joshua BRILLIANTE, 7. Michael ZULLO (2. Aaron CALVER 90’), 8. Paulo RETRE (11. Daniel DE SILVA 63’), 9. Adam LE FONDRE, 10. Milos NINKOVIC, 13. Brandon O’NEILL, 14. Alex BROSQUE (21. Charles LOKOLI NGOY 86’), 23. Rhyan GRANT
Substitutes not used: 20. Alex CISAK (GK), 24. Cameron DEVLIN
Yellow cards: O’Neill 18’
Red cards: nil