You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Ibini lifts Sydney FC to Big Blue win

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/01/2017 Ben McKay

Sydney FC have salvaged a Big Blue win, coming from behind to defeat 10-man Melbourne Victory for the second time this season and in doing so, all but clinched the A-League premiership.

A star turn from Bernie Ibini just five minutes after coming off the bench on Thursday night won the match for the Sky Blues, after Filip Holosko cancelled out James Troisi's fine opener for Victory.

The striker skirted through Victory's back four, outmuscling Alan Baro and baffling milestone man Leigh Broxham to create, and bury, a one-on-one chance.

The embarrassment for Victory's defenders was complete shortly after, when James Donachie's wretched tackle on Sydney captain Alex Brosque 20 minutes from time brought a deserved red card.

The critical triumph from Graham Arnold's side takes them 11 points clear of Victory with just 10 matches to play.

It also keeps alive their hopes of an undefeated season, unpredecented in the men's game.

Victory won't give away their chances of reeling their rivals in just yet, but there was no compelling evidence on offer at Etihad Stadium that they deserve to.

Arnold's side showed sternness and resolve to withstand Victory's best efforts, and enough invention to win the contest.

The richly anticipated clash of first and second on the ladder started at a snail's pace, with more fouls than shots.

But from Troisi's superb opener, the match came alive.

Marco Rojas' layoff from Fahid Ben Khalfallah's cross on 18 minutes looked too heavy for Troisi but the Socceroo bent his body and curled a right-footed shot into the corner of the net.

Danny Vukovic was alert to deny Besart Berisha from close range shortly after, while Lawrence Thomas made a double save to deny Bobo and then Michael Zullo.

Sydney were back on terms on 38 minutes, when Milos Ninkovic's arced ball was expertly headed home by Holosko.

The A-League's leading assist-makers, Rojas and Ninkovic, had once again conjured something for their sides.

After the break, Victory came out on top but scrambled close range chances were scuffed by Donachie and Broxham.

How coach Kevin Muscat must have wished they fell to more lethal attackers.

Ben Khalfallah's attempted to finish a free-flowing move clattered off the crossbar and it seemed only a matter of time before Victory took the lead back.

Enter Ibini.

On 65 minutes, the substitute changed the match, confirming the likely destination of the Premier's Plate.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon