Sydney vs. Melbourne City  2 - 1

Article

Del Piero tight-lipped on Abbas spat

14 January 2013 04:07

Sydney FC's Alessandro Del Piero has declined to reveal the details of his on-field disagreement with team-mate Ali Abbas.

Del Piero and Abbas argued heatedly after the latter was substituted late in the first half of Sunday's match against Melbourne Heart, as Sydney coach Frank Farina attempted to get his misfiring team back in the game after the hosts had gone 1-0 behind.

Two late goals - the winner coming four minutes into time added on via a Del Piero assist - handed the Sky Blues a season-reviving 2-1 win amid frenzied scenes at Allianz Stadium.

Del Piero later tweeted a photo of himself throwing a mock punch at a smiling Abbas in the Sydney dressing-room but was reluctant to discuss the incident.

He instead used his personal website to hail Sydney's fighting qualities.

"This victory is really precious for our position on (the) table but above all for our team's spirit and our chances to succeed (in the future)," Del Piero wrote.

"(The) success against Melbourne Heart is very important because it confirms a progression we've demonstrated on the pitch at the beginning of this new year.

"Once again a recovery and this time it brought us three points.

"Our supporters were there for us and helped us a lot.

"Now let's concentrate on the next challenge, our home match against Wellington Phoenix on the 19th of January."

Victory in that match could catapult the Sky Blues into sixth spot if other results go their way.

Article

Aloisi acknowledges Heart vulnerability

14 January 2013 00:46

John Aloisi says Melbourne Heart have a problem closing out games after they threw away another lead to lose 2-1 to Sydney FC on Sunday.

The Heart appeared on track for a third straight win when they led 1-0 with less than six minutes left before two late goals saw the Sky Blues get out of jail.

It continues a worrying trend for the Heart, who have made a habit this season of conceding late goals.

They lost the derby to a stoppage-time Archie Thompson strike, while Aloisi's troops also squandered a two-goal second-half lead in going down 3-2 to Wellington last month.

"Because we've conceded late on in games the players get a bit anxious towards the end," Aloisi said of his side's tendency to concede late goals.

"Our game is to try and keep ball as long as possible. We haven't got a squad that is (suited) to sit back and have two banks of four.

"We just don't have the players to do it and sometimes it might be the reason why we don't close out a game 1-0.

"We've got players that are good on the ball and that's why we've selected them.

"You can also win games 1-0 by keeping possession of the ball but we didn't do that well enough in second half."

The last-gasp defeat has seen the Heart drop out of the top six ahead of a vital home clash with Adelaide on Friday night.

With six teams set to be vying for the final two spots in the finals, Aloisi admitted his side's late capitulation to the Sky Blues has brought them back to the chasing pack.

"The thing that hurts the most is that it's close around there and it's an opportunity lost for us," the Heart coach said.

"We felt that we even though we haven't played the best the last two games we've been able to win.

"I thought that we've got that winning feeling and spirit and the boys will be able to kick on for the rest of the season.

"But we didn't do that tonight and we lost a chance to go fifth but there's still time to get into the finals."

Article

Farina tips tough test for Del Piero

11 January 2013 06:16

Sydney FC coach Frank Farina expects Melbourne Heart to target Alessandro Del Piero in Sunday's A-League clash.

Del Piero was the recipient of a number of brutal challenges from Heart players in the sides' 0-0 draw in Sydney last month in Farina's first game in charge of the Sky Blues.

The Italian star failed to finish the match and subsequently missed the club's next clash away to the Wellington Phoenix.

Farina has been vocal in recent weeks in calling for more protection for the 38-year-old, who has become a target of opposition bullies since his scintillating start to the season.

"And that's up to the referee's to interpret that and handle that," Farina told reporters on Friday.

"I don't think teams actually go out and say 'we're going to kick the living crap out of someone'.

"But they will muscle up on key players and Alessandro is certainly a key player for us.

"They (Heart) will most probably be looking at nullifying him again as best as they can."

After missing the New Year's Eve loss to Adelaide with a calf and Achilles problem, Del Piero said he is over any injury concerns heading into a vital period for the Sky Blues.

Asked about the possibility of another torrid affair against the Heart, Del Piero joked: "I'll call (Heart coach) John Aloisi before the game and say something.

"But every game is a hard game, like the last one against Heart.

"I'll just do my best and think only about my team-mates ... what happens on the field stays on the field.

"I don't know (If I'm being targeted), sometimes my legs say that.

"It happens ... all my career is like that so it's not a problem for me."

What is a problem for Del Piero and Sydney is that they sit on the bottom of the A-League ladder with 12 games left to save their season.

Starting with the Heart on Sunday, the Sky Blues face two season-defining home games, with fellow struggles the Phoenix to come on January 19.

"We are on the bottom and we need to use our two home games, with our fans, to create a win and then everything can help us to start for more wins," Del Piero said.

"But to do that we can only think about Sunday at the moment.

"It's a very important game, we haven't had much luck against the Heart (in the past), hopefully we can start now.

"This is a new challenge for me ... usually I don't lose much during the season but it's happened.

"But we have a chance to do something and go to the playoffs. We have to use all our energy for this and hope it will happen."

Farina said his side had taken a lot of confidence from the way they were able to fight back twice in the 2-2 draw away to Perth last weekend.

While denying a loss to the Heart would end their finals chances, Farina conceded it would make life extremely difficult.

Nut the former Australia coach insists the pressure-cooker situation was having no effect on morale.

"It's still very positive. I've seen some dressing rooms have been down and there's been some dissent or disappointment," Farina said.

"But it's a really good group. They've had a roller coaster ride this year but the attitude's always positive and you can tell that by what's happening here on the training field.

"It's always positive and they are always giving me 100 percent.

"We would like to get some sort of roll going and with two home games hopefully we can do that."

Defender Fabio and striker Yairo Yau are both in contention for a re-call after missing the clash with the Glory through injury.

A-League table

# Team MP D P
1 27 +20 57
2 27 +26 54
3 27 +3 44
4 27 +1 41
5 27 +4 35
6 27 -2 32
7 27 -10 32
8 27 -15 31
9 27 -9 27
10 27 -18 27