Adelaide United remain in contention for the Premiers Plate heading into the final round after recording a 2-0 win against a poor Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
Bruce Djite scored twice in the first half to put the Reds in complete control before they comfortably saw out the result after the break.
The three points moves them back to the top of the table for at least the next 24 hours, although both Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City have the chance to leapfrog them if they win their respective matches on Sunday.
It was another listless display from the Sky Blues, who were booed off the pitch at the end of the match.
Sydney’s faint finals hopes were ended before kick-off – due to Victory’s win in Wellington – but they have now gone a club record 11 Hyundai A-League games without a win.
0-1 Djite (26’) – Michael Marrone’s cross from the right was diverted towards his own goal by Zac Anderson. It forced Vedran Janjetovic into a save but he could only parry it into the path of Djite who slammed it home from close range.
0-1 Djite (45’) – After Bruce Kamau’s initial shot was blocked, the ball bounced out to Djite on the edge of the box and he unleashed a powerful volley with his left foot which scorched past both Janjetovic and Aaron Calver on its way into the corner of the net.
Midway through the first half, the Sky Blues launched a promising attack with left-back Riley Woodcock finding acres of space down the flank. The youngster did brilliantly to surge to the byline before cutting it back into the path of Filip Holosko around the penalty spot.
But Sydney’s marquee man wasted a glorious chance, slicing his effort horribly as it went harmlessly wide of the far post. Five minutes later the Reds opened the scoring to take a stranglehold on the contest.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
- Adelaide’s shut-out of the Sky Blues means they have become the first team in Hyundai A-League history to keep four consecutive clean sheets in away matches.
- Djite’s opening goal was his 31st for the Reds, making him the club’s all-time leading scorer.
- The Sky Blues have now gone five consecutive games at home without a win, not managing to score more than a single goal in any of those matches.
-Djite’s volley with his weaker left foot for the second goal was sublime.
-Marcelo Carrusca easily won the battle of the no.10’s against Milos Ninkovic, producing some classy touches and passes for the Reds.
Poor Zac Anderson had a first half to forget for the home side, at fault for both of Adelaide’s goals. First his unfortunate deflection allowed Djite to pounce while he turned over possession in the box in the lead up to the second goal.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Sky Blues boss Graham Arnold made eight changes to his side which was unlucky to lose to Brisbane Roar last weekend, including handing debuts to Alex Mullen and Riley Woodcock. Unfortunately his decision to freshen up his squad – perhaps with one eye on Tuesday’s ACL clash – didn’t work with Sydney FC clearly lacking cohesion and confidence.
THE FINAL WORD
The Sky Blues look to be heading towards the end of the regular season with a whimper. While their finals fate was already sealed before kick-off, they gave their fans little to cheer about in a tame performance. Sydney has an ACL game midweek before ending their disappointing campaign at home to Perth Glory next Sunday.
It was another masterful away performance from the Reds. They were dominant in all areas and rarely got out of first gear over the 90 minutes. Gui Amor’s side are still well in the hunt for the Premiership, with a huge clash away to Melbourne City next Friday night.