Carlos continues Sydney woes

Melbourne have extended Sydney’s miserable start to their Hyundai A-League championship defence by defeating them 3-0 at Etihad Stadium and in the process stretching the Sky Blues’ winless streak to ten.

Melbourne have extended Sydney’s miserable start to their Hyundai A-League championship defence by defeating them 3-0 at Etihad Stadium and in the process stretching the Sky Blues’ winless streak to ten.

In was a Grand Final re-match marked by two key features; the emphatic return to form by Johnny Warren Medallist Carlos Hernandez, who set-up one goal and scored another, and the continued fall from grace for Sydney, who looked limp and lifeless and barely mustered a threat on Melbourne’s goal.

Victory responded brilliantly to their season’s worst effort against cross-town rival Heart last week, returning to form on the back of their Costa Rican’s efforts with the dead ball and in front of goal.

Hernandez delivered a perfect free kick to set up Rody Vargas for the opener on 19 minutes before he scored his first goal of the season three minutes into the second half after latching on to Tom Pondeljak’s cross to score a rare header.

Pondeljak also played a part in the third goal in the dying minutes, playing a long ball for Robbie Kruse to run onto and finish well.

The simple nature of the final two goals was a good representation of how disappointing Sydney were. It was too easy for Melbourne and the Sky Blues looked far from the disciplined and well-organised unit which claimed ultimate glory, albeit by penalties, when they last visited this ground seven months ago.

Melbourne completely bossed the game in the first half and the home side created plenty of chances inside the first ten minutes. After Kevin Muscat, Kruse and Grant Brebner all tried with no reward, Hernandez smashed the ball into the bar and Ricardinho headed the follow-up over the top.

Sydney best early chance fell to Alex Brosque, but the striker managed only to sharpen Michael Petkovic’s reflexes, while Shannon Cole and Bruno Cazarine also had near misses.

On 19 minutes, Melbourne took a deserved lead after Robbie Kruse won a free kick, which Hernandez took. The Costa Rican curled it in and Vargas was there to hit it hard enough to deflect the ball off Liam Reddy’s arms and into the net.

Victory continued to create the better chances and after Hernandez curled a free kick just wide, Ricardinho had two chances, the first spoiled by an excellent Stephan Keller challenge and the second by a poor finish.

In between those, Cole hit a rifling shot which forced Petkovic to dive and palm away at full stretch to maintain the 1-0 advantage at the break.

Hernandez had already threatened early in the second half hitting a shot at Reddy before he broke a club goalscoring drought which stretched back to February 18. Not renowned for his pace, the Costa Rican somehow sprung Sydney’s offside trap to pounce on a good cross from Pondeljak and finish with ease.

That effectively killed the game and while Sydney sent for Nick Carle, it was Melbourne’s playmaker who was controlling the contest.

Hernandez repeatedly set-up his team-mates with clever ball, but Ricardinho and Pondeljak both missed chances to extend the advantage, while Vargas went within inches of a double

Sydney pressed hard and enjoyed their best period of the game in the final 25 minutes. Bruno Cazarine and Carle both went close to scoring with Petkovic called upon to keep a clean sheet on several occasions.

But with the visitors pressing, Victory counter attacked superbly late in the game to make it 3-0. Pondeljak hit a long ball to give Kruse a chance to run into the box and while the shot was deflected, it went in at the far post.

Sydney now travel to Perth next week in match which both teams will be desperate to win – Sydney because they have just four points – and no wins – from their opening ten matches and Glory as they have now lost their past five and are in danger of losing touch with the top six.

Victory, who temporarily go to fourth with this result, travel to Brisbane to play the Roar next Saturday.

Melbourne Victory 3 (Vargas 19, Hernandez 48, Kruse 89)
Sydney FC 0
Crowd: 17,299 at Etihad Stadium