Fiona Worts enjoyed a goalscoring reunion with Adelaide United to help reigning Liberty A-League champions Sydney FC to a 3-1 victory.
Worts came back to haunt her former side with two goals in the span of six first-half minutes as Sydney returned to league action for the first time since October 21, when they lost to Brisbane Roar, due to the international break and their commitments in the AFC Women’s Championship.
The Sky Blues were based in Uzbekistan for their three group-stage fixtures, defeating Bam Khatoon and Nasaf, before falling to a 3-0 loss to Hyundai Steel Red Angels last week that saw them eliminated from the competition.
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On the road to the winless Reds on Sunday, Worts’ quick-fire double put Sydney into a 2-0 lead by the 26-minute mark before Adelaide rallied through Hannah Blake’s goal in first-half stoppage time but Princess Ibini’s 79th-minute penalty put the result beyond doubt.
There was a big moment when Jessica Seaman was named in Sydney’s starting XI. After covering for injured captain Natalie Tobin at the Women’s Club Championship, the veteran centre-back earned a short-term contract at the Sky Blues. Incredibly, her last Liberty A-League appearance for Sydney came 15 years ago in January, 2009; Seaman is signed on a short-term contract at the club and she made her first appearance in Sky Blue in 5,425 days.
Sydney, despite the absence of Matildas star Cortnee Vine, looked like a team right at the top of their game after dominating from the outset at Marden Sports Complex.
Chances were piling up for Sydney as Worts and Shea Connors went close to breaking the deadlock, though Reds goalkeeper Annalee Grove denied both.
Worts did make the breakthrough in the 20th minute. It was a simple tap-in after a driving run from Tori Tumeth, who rolled the ball back for the unmarked Englishwoman to finish easily.
It was 2-0 just six minutes later as Worts struck again – the Sydney forward heading home beautifully from Abbey Lemon’s cross.
At the other end, Blake showed what Adelaide are capable of after going close to reduce the deficit within a minute. Only a sublime diving save from Jada Whyman denied the Reds.
Worts almost completed her hat-trick before half-time, while Connors somehow missed the target in the 45th minute.
Just as Sydney looked in total control, Adelaide pulled a goal back in the third minute of first-half stoppage time. Blake beat the offside trap to finish past Whyman, who was enraged and received a yellow card.
Sydney had a golden opportunity to restore their two-goal buffer five minutes into the second half. Connors tried to round Grove but the Adelaide shot-stopper managed to save it before a desperate goal-line clearance kept the visitors at bay.
With 24 minutes remaining, Adelaide nearly equalised after Whyman came out to collect a cross but missed the ball. However, the Reds were unable to steer a shot on target.
Adelaide’s hopes of a comeback were extinguished when Ibini won a penalty 11 minutes from time and stepped up to convert the spot-kick.
The Talking Point
All eyes were on Sydney after not only their exploits in Uzbekistan, but the intense travel.
Two weeks out of Liberty A-League action after a history-making Women’s Club Championship, Sunday was a quick turnaround for Ante Juric’s side.
The Sky Blues endured a 34-hour trip to get to Uzbekistan before returning home.
However, the titleholders looked like a team at the top of their game away to the Reds in South Australia.
Sydney have now won four of their past five Liberty A-League games, having celebrated back-to-back victories over Adelaide.
Who else but two-goal hero Fiona Worts?
She haunted her former club as she maintained her red-hot form. The 2021-22 Julie Dollan Medallist has now scored four goals in her past three league matches.
It comes after she scored four goals during Sydney’s Women’s Club Championship campaign.
Worts has now scored 11 goals in South Australia while she scored her first goals at Marden Sports Complex after five previous games without finding the back of the net.
What it means
Sydney have their second win of the season, having lost to the Roar before their Uzbekistan adventure.
The Sky Blues are seven points adrift of league-leading Perth Glory with two games in hand as they prepare to host high-flying Melbourne City on November 26.
As for Adelaide, they are still searching for their first win of the campaign. With one point from five rounds, the Reds are at the foot of the table.
Next up for Adelaide is a trip to Brisbane Roar on November 26.