Sydney FC has continued its unbeaten start to the A-League season as David Carney scored a brace to send Melbourne Victory packing 2-1 in a spiteful ‘Big Blue’.
The Sky Blues rode their luck throughout a tricky first half at Allianz Stadium on Saturday then came from a goal down to stick the knife in and claim their first win against Victory in 10 meetings.
The result leaves the Sky Blues with five wins from five games this season and five points clear at the top of the table – though it wasn’t always clear-cut.
Sydney conceded its first goal of this campaign when Mitch Austin put Victory in front on 41 minutes.
It was a deserved goal for the left-winger, who played the role of creator all night and ran Sydney right-back Rhyan Grant ragged.
Yet it should have come much earlier in an incredibly lucky first half for the hosts, during which Besart Berisha had a goal disallowed and missed a penalty, while captain Alex Brosque could well have been sent off for his heavy challenge on Leigh Broxham.
Sandwiched in between, Marco Rojas missed a sitter with Sydney goalkeeper Danny Vukovic erroneously off his line and an empty net beckoning.
Austin, who delivered Rojas the cross, was also provider of a lovely through ball to Berisha in the opening minutes, but the offside flag was raised moments after the Albanian striker chipped into the net.
Berisha was then the recipient of wild jeers from 19,143 mostly Sydney fans for his shocking attempt at a penalty.
The shot skewed high and left of goal, forcing a wry smile from him and a taunt from Filip Holosko, the man who had fouled him in the box.
Despite the catalogue of close calls and chances at both ends, Sydney had a slight upper hand, with Serbian playmaker Milos Ninkovic applying pressure and Josh Brillante narrowly missing a long-range bullet.
Graham Arnold clearly wasn’t happy though and the coach traded barbs with his Victory counterpart Kevin Muscat, who was given a warning by referee Chris Beath as tensions boiled over.
Tempers flared on the field too as substitute Matt Simon got rough with James Donachie and Michael Zullo suffered a nasty collision with a pitchside table.
Amid the drama, Arnold made the big call of replacing marquee man Holosko with veteran Carney on the hour mark – and it proved a masterstroke.
The former Socceroo struck just four minutes into his introduction, appearing to handle Brosque’s ball in the box before stabbing home with his left foot.
Then, on the 78th minute, Grant cut the ball back to Carney for his clinical left boot to prod home again.