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Buhagiar brace lifts Sydney to Derby win

Sydney FC coach Steve Corica is confident his side have the quality for another deep push into the A-League Men finals following a demonstration of their lethal edge in a 3-2 derby win over Western Sydney Wanderers.

An early goal from Adam Le Fondre combined with a second-half, five-minute brace from Trent Buhagiar to ensure Sydney turned Sky Blue at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday night, overcoming Tomer Hemed and Tate Russell’s efforts for Wanderers.

“It’s an amazing feeling for him and important goals for the club,” Corica said of Buhagiar.

Despite losing Rhyan Grant to an 89th-minute red card on the night he broke Sydney’s all-time appearance record, the Harboursiders saw off a furious late charge to take the win, shoring up their place in the ALM top-six ahead of a midweek clash with Melbourne City.

“It had everything tonight, that derby. That’s what it’s all about,” Corica said.

“We know what we can do. It’s about being more consistent and taking our chances because that’s been our problem.

“With the amount of quality we have in the change room, we believe we can go all the way.”

The win, however, was not without its controversy as Wanderers’ late flurry featured a denied penalty shout after an apparent handball by defender James Donachie.

It was the type of offence that has been penalised in other ALM games but, on Saturday, it escaped the wrath of the VAR.

“We’re all in a position where we’re not too sure how that works,” Wanderers assistant Gary van Egmond said.

“Sometimes you get the rub of the green, sometimes you don’t. This time we didn’t. So, as long as everyone is consistent, that’s what we all want.”

In defeat, Wanderers continue to languish in 10th on the ALM table in the wake of the defeat; seven points adrift of the finals places with no games in hand.

But with a favourable run home, van Egmond said he believed all was not lost in the club’s attempts to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016-17.

“In the last seven games, I don’t think we play anyone that’s in the top five,” he said.

“It’s in our hands as far as that’s concerned.

“If we can start… to get victories it will also be a negative for them.

“From our perspective, we definitely can make it. There’s a lot of belief within the group.”

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