The latest iteration of The Big Blue, taking place on Australia Day, was billed as the Unite Derby. After 90 agonising minutes for the Victory, it was more like The Big Bruise, and Melbourne was far from United as Sydney FC steamrolled the home team in a 5-0 display nobody, not even coach Frank Farina, saw coming.
A brace to Alessandro Del Piero and goals to Ranko Despotovic, Seb Ryall and Nick Carle saw the Melbourne Victory succumb to their second consecutive 5-0 defeat, only the third club in Australian domestic football history to do so.
From the opening whistle, Sydney FC bossed the game, especially in midfield where Melbourne Victory, inexplicably, allowed Sydney’s midfield engine of McFlynn, Gligor, Dimitrijevic and Del Piero to move through the middle of the park uncontested. McFlynn especially was left to his own devices, allowing him space and time to lay pinpoint passes to his team-mates. It was one of these passes that led to the first goal, with a long ball over the top of the Victory defence falling to a charging Despotovic, who drove his shot across the face of goal – and a diving Nathan Coe – to give the Sky Blues the lead inside 15 minutes.
Minutes later, Despotovic was in the action again as Del Piero turned provider, chipping the ball into the Victory penalty area. Victory defender Adrian Leijer threw an arm across the front of Despotovic, who went to ground, giving Ben Williams no choice but to award a penalty. Del Piero stepped up amidst a chorus of boos from the Victory fans, but sent Coe the wrong way with his strike to give Sydney a 2-0 lead.
Soon after it was 3-0, as Sydney right-back Seb Ryall latched onto a pass from Terry McFlynn and went on a mazy run through a gaping hole left in the Victory defence. His run took him past multiple Victory defenders who, caught flat-footed, watched on helplessly as Ryall struck the ball with the outside of his boot, past the outstretched hand of Coe. Ryall, a former Victory player, wasted no time in running across to the Victory fans behind goal, riling them up even more before being swamped by his team-mates.
The teams went into the sheds at half-time, but not before both sides suffered injuries. Adrian Leijer was knocked unconscious by a Milos Dimitrijevic pile-driver as Sydney sought to make it 4-0, while Sydney FC lost Terry McFlynn to what was revealed later to be a torn quad muscle.
The second half saw the introduction of Melbourne Victory’s star signing during the week, Tom Rogic, while Sydney FC brought on Nick Carle. The momentum of the match didn’t change however, and not long after the restart a calamitous error from Nathan Coe saw Despotovic set up Del Piero, in space, right in front of the Victory goal. The Italian maestro doesn’t miss from that kind of range and buried the ball into the back of the net.
It was 4-0, the Sydney FC away supporters were in full voice and Melbourne Victory, shellshocked, had no answers. Gui Finkler was introduced by Kevin Muscat but Sydney, in a display rarely seen over the last season and a half, didn’t let up, their midfield controlling possession. The Sydney FC strikers had multiple chances in the 2nd half to add to their tally but were unable to do so, with both Gameiro and Despotovic unable to turn their possession into an additional goal.
As the game wound down, a final defensive error from the Victory saw Sydney complete the 5-0 demolition. Galloway dwelled on the ball too long after the Victory defence tried to keep possession, and Nick Carle pounced, charging in from midfield and robbing the young Victory defender, before smashing his shot past Nathan Coe.
The game ended with an embrace between the embattled Del Piero and Frank Farina, and a cacophony of boos from Melbourne Victory fans forced to endure a second 5-0 thrashing.Google+