Sydney FC may have rode their luck in the first half but they underlined their Hyundai A-League championship credentials in their 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory.
On another night, Victory could have cruised to the three points at Allianz Stadium as Marco Rojas and Besart Berisha inexplicably missed huge chances – the latter from the penalty spot – before the break.
But the A-League leaders made the most of their luck at home, while David Carney came off the bench to secure Sydney’s first Big Blue triumph in 10 meetings.
Teams that win titles often get the rub of the green.
They also have the ability to change matches via tactical or personnel changes.
Carney’s first goal came after he controlled Alex Brosque’s cross with his hand but there was nothing controversial about his second as he played a one-two with the impressive Rhyan Grant before firing the ball into the bottom corner.
Having replaced the rather ineffectual Filip Holosko early in the second half, Carney turned the contest in the Sky Blues’ favour after Victory had looked more dangerous in the first period.
This was far from Sydney’s best performance of the season but unlike Melbourne City, who completely dominated possession against Brisbane Roar but lost 1-0, Graham Arnold’s side found a way to win against Victory.
Arnold’s men are flying in 2016-17 with five consecutive wins to start the campaign, although Mitch Austin’s opening goal for Victory ended Sydney’s perfect defensive run.
With every other club taking points off each other – Wellington Phoenix notched their first points of the season with a 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets in the earlier match on Saturday – Sydney have quickly built a five-point lead.
History was stacked against Sydney at half-time with Victory on a nine-game unbeaten run in the Big Blue, while the Sky Blues had never before come from behind at the break to win in this fixture.
But while Victory continued to create opportunities in the second half – particularly in the latter stages – Sydney looked the far more dangerous team.
Just after equalising in the 63rd minute, Carney forced Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas into a fine save with a free-kick, while the winger could have done better when Michael Zullo’s long throw fell at his feet.
With 12 minutes remaining, Carney put Sydney ahead with a well-taken shot from just inside the penalty area.
This match was the start of a tough run for Sydney with matches against Perth Glory, Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United to come before the FFA Cup Final against City on November 30.
But judging by this performance, Arnold has the quality and depth at his disposal to end the month in a great position in terms of the A-League and perhaps with a piece of silverware too.