Gold Coast keep firing

Two goals from Joel Porter has seen Gold Coast United show off their championship credentials through a 3-1 victory over Sydney FC on Friday night at Skilled Park.

Two goals from Joel Porter has seen Gold Coast United show off their championship credentials through a 3-1 victory over Sydney FC on Friday night at Skilled Park.

The classy brace from Porter, his first goals of the season, and a goal to United skipper Jason Culina was a good result for Miron Bleiberg’s men, who have been criticised of late for some very defensive performances.

But United turned it all around in one of their more mature performances in the competition, and could even have scored more than the three goals they did, putting a lid on any hopes of a Sydney FC revival.

The win sees United leapfrog the Mariners into third on the Hyundai A-League table, still five points adrift of competition leader Brisbane, as Sydney remain in ninth with some work to do if they’re to make the finals.

During the opening passages Sydney appeared the more lively side but a typically electric Adama Traore run resulted in the first goal of the evening, and the first of the season for Joel Porter.

The Ivorian winger danced his way into the box and quickly flicked the ball out to Culina. The captain’s cross picked Porter out perfectly but Sydney’s defence seemingly stopped awaiting an offside call. As the linesman kept his flag down, Porter ambled past Stephen Keller and fired the ball past Necevski’s near post.

Despite the scoreboard, Sydney held the ball for long periods in the first half but try as they might, could not penetrate a resolute Gold Coast defence. Each Sky Blue attack fell apart once they approached United’s compact and tight back four which soaked up any pressure offered by the reigning champions, who were more than happy to wait for their opportunity while their opponents toiled for no reward.

Just before the break, Gold Coast doubled their lead as Brazilian left back Anderson teased the Sydney defence with a pass before quickly dispatching off to Culina, whose shot from the top of the box rolled into the back of the net past a pedestrian Necevski.

After 54 minutes, Porter had his brace after some fantastic work from Bas van den Brink, who picked Hiro Moriyasu’s pocket as Sydney pressed forward, finding Porter just outside the box.

The 31-year-old jinked past Hayden Foxe and substitute Stuart Musialik, cutting onto his left and blasting the ball into the top left-hand corner.

Five minutes later, Sydney pulled one back, as a shot on the outside of the foot from Hiro was tipped onto the post by Moss, with Bruno Cazarine on hand to pick up the crumbs and his sixth goal of the campaign.

That goal sparked a Sydney revival as the visitors displayed some of the quality they showed in the opening minutes.

But, despite a series of late Sky Blue corners, United always had the answers.

Gold Coast coach Bleiberg had some mixed emotions after the game.

“I think we should have been four up in the first half but in the second half we didn’t play well,” he said.

“I’m not impressed with our second half but that’s the sign of a good team – if you play not to the best of your ability and you still win comfortably 3-1 with no danger of losing, then we should feel proud to beat the reigning champions.”

“I’m not happy that we conceded but I’m happy we scored three good goals, each was better than the next.”

Sydney FC boss Vitezslav Lavicka was disappointed, but pleased with his side-s effort in the second half.

“I have to say, we improved in the second half, but it wasn’t enough because we didn’t achieve the goal,” he said. “I appreciate the effort of the players because they didn’t give up and still pushed forward but I have to congratulate Gold Coast United – they had a good performance, especially in the first half. They have good quality on the pitch.”

“We started the game very well, I think. The first 15 minutes were good but unlucky for us their first shot was a goal and after that we had problems, and they punished us. We changed the formation for the second half and improved but it wasn’t enough.”