A Milos Ninkovic masterclass and a horror defensive error from a substitute have lifted Sydney FC to a 3-0 A-League Men victory over Western United at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
Ninkovic produced a stunning volley in the 23rd minute to kick off proceedings on Saturday night, and he turned provider early in the second half to set up Dutchman Luciano Narsingh for his maiden ALM goal.
Things went from bad to worse for Western United in the 68th minute when substitute Jerry Skotadis, who had just entered the field of play, stumbled as he attempted to trap a defensive pass on the edge of the box.
Sydney midfielder Mustafa Amini swooped to steal the ball and power home the sealer.
The result lifted Sydney to within one point of the top four, while the end of Western United’s nine-match unbeaten run means they missed the chance to retake top spot on the ladder.
“He’s class Ninko. He’s getting a little bit older, but the finish was sensational,” Sydney coach Steve Corica said.
“Luciano’s goal – it was a smart finish. He’s still not match fit at the moment. He’s getting stronger each game.
“Tonight he showed his class in front of goal with his finish.”
Sydney defender James Donachie could only watch on in horror in the second minute when his fluffed clearance attempt was pounced upon by Aleksandar Prijovic, who calmly chipped the ball into the back of the net.
The goal was disallowed for offside – to the dismay of Western coach John Aloisi.
“I’m not sure if the linesman should have flagged, it should have gone straight to VAR,” Aloisi said.
“Second of all, the rule is if the defender plays at the ball and gets a touch, which the defender did, then it’s play on.
“Either way it wasn’t offside in my opinion, unless they changed the rule again and didn’t tell me.”
The close call seemed to spark Sydney into action, with the home side controlling play for long periods of the first half.
Their dominance paid dividends in the 23rd minute when a falling Ninkovic produced a spectacular volley to power home Rhyan Grant’s lobbed cross.
“Rhyan Grant pushed Connor Pain clearly in the back, and it should have been a foul,” Aloisi said of the lead-up to Sydney’s first goal.
“That’s why I got a yellow card because I kept on mentioning it and they didn’t like that I mentioned something.”
Ninkovic turned provider in the 58th minute when his perfectly-weighted pass into the box unleashed Narsingh, who kept his cool by calmly chipping the ball over the advancing keeper.
It was game over when Skotadis coughed up the ball with his first touch upon entering the field of play.
He stumbled after trying to trap a short pass from goalkeeper Jamie Young, and Amini showed no mercy by thundering the ball into the back of the net for his first ALM goal since 2011.