Sydney FC coach Steve Corica has heaped praise on the Sky Blues after they held on for a dramatic 2-1 victory over Adelaide United in Adelaide.
Corica said he side had displayed immense character and resilience on Friday night to ward off a strong-finishing Reds outfit who were desperately searching for second equaliser in the final 10 minutes.
Heroics from goalkeeper Thomas Heward-Belle ensured Sydney claimed all three points, as he saved a spot kick from Hiroshi Ibusuki in the 88th minute.
“They’re a very good team at home and difficult to beat,” Corica said.
“That’s why we’re pleased with the three points and the performance – it was good.
“It showed great character again, the resilience the boys showed to defend the goal in the last five, six, seven minutes because they were putting balls in everywhere and we were defending well.”
The Sky Blues dominated the contest and bullied United for large parts of the game, taking the lead on 10 minutes thanks to Elvis Kamsoba, before Stefan Mauk equalised for Adelaide just after the half hour.
Heward-Belle made a couple of impressive saves before the break while Sydney were the better side after the restart.
Corica brought on Max Burgess on 52 minutes to replace the injured Mustafa Amini, before unloading the bench on the half hour.
Bobo, Ryhan Grant and Adam Le Fondre were all introduced and the changes helped turn the tide further in Sydney’s favour.
Burgess and Bobo combined for the winning goal on 73 minutes with Corica acknowledging a welcome return for Grant and Le Fondre in particular, after they had added strength and depth on the bench.
It was Le Fondre’s first hit out since a lengthy lay off due to a hamstring injury while Grant was returning from international duty.
“I got them on nice and early as well to give them opportunities to do what they did and I thought they changed the game for us as well,” Corica said.
“There’s some good quality, obviously on the bench which helps, but that’s the first time we’ve had a few of the boys back.
“It was the first time for Le Fondre for quite a while. It’s great to have a few bodies back to give us that strength and depth we need on the bench.”
Reds coach Carl Veart admitted it wasn’t the Reds finest performance, despite carving out some clear goalscoring chances, particularly in the lead up to halftime and in the closing stages.
“I thought we were a bit sloppy at times in the game and didn’t make the most of our opportunities,” he said.
“Their keeper played very well and made some great saves.
“We were just a bit sloppy in crucial parts of the game.”