Goals to Eli Babalj, Mate Dugandzic, and substitutes, Jason Hoffman and Alex Terra, completed the hammering with the visitors claiming their fifth straight win and, more importantly, second spot on the A-League ladder going into the new year.
In a rather dour opening 15 minutes of the match, a Simon Colosimo flick-on at the near post from a Melbourne corner and a wild Bruno Cazarine drive from outside the box was all both sides had to show for themselves. With neither side able to control possession, it was Sydney FC who took it upon themselves to dominate the majority of play for the rest of the first half.
Firstly, a mix-up in the heart of defence by Melbourne’s Aziz Behich and ‘keeper, Clint Bolton, presented possession to the Sky Blues on the edge of the box. However, Dimitri Petratos’ snap-shot was hit straight at Bolton when a touch of composure was needed by the Sydney youngster.
Minutes later, a clever cross by Cazarine on the right flank found Shannon Cole at the far post. With time to take a touch, Cole disappointingly blasted his shot into the on-rushing Matt Thompson instead of placing it in the far corner of the net.
Sydney continued to press on the Heart defence and perhaps could have won a penalty when Cazarine won the ball ahead of Bolton just inside the area. The pair clattered into each other and it looked like a simple 50-50 ball, but with the referee waving away the protests, Cazarine may just have had a case.
Nevertheless, for all of Sydney’s enterprise, it was the Heart who took the lead very much against the run of play. On the 32nd minute, Thompson lofted a hopeful ball towards the box, seemingly with no particular target in mind. However, a lack of communication between Sydney’s Scott Jamieson and Pascal Bosschaart allowed Fred to muscle his way in ahead of the latter before assessing his options and playing the ball back for Babalj to tap the ball in into an unguarded net.
The goal deflated the home side, and with neither side able to carve out any more clear-cut chances in the opening 45, Sydney seemed somewhat content to go into half-time just the one goal down. However, the Heart continued to beat away at the home side and in stoppage time produced an eventual killer blow.
A sumptuous ball played down the left channel by Behich allowed Rutger Worm to get behind the Sydney defence and slide an obvious ball across goal for Dugandzic to power home his sixth for the season.
Besides the injury to Fred, the second half largely played out impeccably into the hands of the Heart. After a series of half chances, it appeared that a Cazarine knock down had opened up the path for Sydney’s Karol Kisel to pull a goal back. However, an excellently timed challenge by Colosimo instigated a counter-attack that confirmed the victory for the Heart.
Melbourne, through Dugandzic, powered down the right wing before crossing deep for Behich to force Sydney goalkeeper, Liam Reddy, into a smart left-handed save. However, on the follow-up, Dugandzic fed Hoffman with the latter making no mistake on the cusp of the six-yard box with Melbourne’s third.
The icing on the cake came seven minutes from time when a Reddy howler gifted Terra with one of the easiest goals you’ll ever see. A Babalj through-ball designed for Terra was overhit with Reddy rightly anticipating the danger. However, Reddy’s enthusiasm to ‘get the ball rolling’ was his undoing, with the ‘keeper leaving the ball behind for Terra to dribble the ball into one very empty net.
The result pushes the Heart up to second place, sitting only two points behind the top-of-the-table Central Coast Mariners, who have a game in-hand. Meanwhile, Sydney stay in fourth place, yet could find itself dropping to fifth if the Wellington Phoenix can see off bottom-placed Adelaide United tomorrow.
Sydney FC 0-4 Melbourne Heart.