Sydney FC defender Nikola Petkovic was controversially sent off as the Sky Blues were knocked out of the Westfield FFA Cup quarter finals after a 3-1 extra-time defeat to Adelaide United on Tuesday night.
Sergio Cirio gave the Reds a deserved lead at the break before skipper Alex Brosque came on at the break to draw the Sky Blues level six minutes into the second half.
With the game heading towards extra-time, referee Ben Williams showed Petkovic a straight red card for his lunging – but not overly malicious – tackle on Fabio Ferreira.
And the Reds made the most of the numerical advantage with Bruce Djite scoring in each half of the extra-time period to send Josep Gombau’s side into the last four of the inaugural Cup competition.
0-1 Cirio (28’) – Marcelo Carrusca caught out a static Sydney defence with a delightful lofted ball, picking out the run of Cirio who controlled brilliantly on his chest before racing clear and slotting it past Ivan Necevski.
1-1 Brosque (51’) - Milos Dimitrejevic’s clever little reverse pass found Nick Carle free in the box and he squared the ball to Brosque, who got enough on his effort to loop up over Eugene Galekovic and into the net.
1-2 Djite (99’) – Isaias found Carrusca on the left with an exquisite pass and the Argentine’s cross was clinically turned home by Djite from close range.
1-3 Djite (111’) – Cirio got in behind a tired Sydney defence and cut it back for Carrusca, whose shot fell into the path of Djite. The forward’s first touch bounced up before he swivelled and volleyed it home from inside the six-yard box.
Sydney FC were finishing the stronger but had their momentum stopped when Nikola Petkovic was shown a contentious straight red card for a lunging challenge on Fabio Ferreira. The Reds took advantage in extra-time.
With his side 3-1 up late in extra-time, Reds goal-keeper Eugene Galekovic ensured there would be no late fight-back as he produced a stunning, full-stretched save to keep out Terry Antonis’ curling effort which was destined for the top corner of the net.
Things started poorly for Sydney even before kick-off with defender Matt Jurman – named to start at left-back – being forced to withdraw due to a knee problem. It’s the same injury which kept him out of the derby on the weekend and he re-aggravated it in the warm-up.
Back to the drawing board
They keep grinding out the results but Sydney FC have made a habit of starting slowly in first halves in each of their last three games in the Hyundai A-League and now Westfield FFA Cup. While they have found a way to stay in the contest and work their way back into the match, it’s a trait coach Graham Arnold will want to fix as the season goes on.
What they said
Alex Brosque (Sydney FC)
"It's hard to take. I don't know if it was a red, it seemed like two players just had eyes for the ball.
"I think losing him [Nikola Petković] would be a big loss but we showed tonight we've got the depth for players to step up."
Bruce Djite (Adelaide United)
"I think the boys could have had a better performance but it's a Cup competition so we're just happy to go through.
"We'll certainly be looking to progress to the final but right now the focus is on Perth Glory [in the Hyundai A-League] this weekend."
The Final Word
Adelaide have said all along they are taking this competition seriously and they put out all their big guns to ensure they got the job done on the road. It’s kept alive the prospect of an all-Adelaide semi-final (if Adelaide City can win next week) and should have them in a confident mood for the visit of Hyundai A-League leaders Perth Glory on Sunday.
The Sky Blues have less than three days to lick their wounds and refresh ahead of a daunting trip to face defending Hyundai A-League champions Brisbane Roar, without the suspended Petkovic.
Sydney FC: Necevski, Bojic, Ryall, Petkovic, Jurman, Triantis (Gameiro 73’), Dimitrejevic (Antonis 66’), Abbas, Carle, Naumoff, Janko (Brosque 46’)
Adelaide United: Galekovic, McGowan (Marrone 70’), Boogaard, Elrich, Isaias, Sanchez (Malik 59’), Jeggo, Mabil (Ferreira 59’), Carrusca, Cirio, Djite
Scorers: Cirio (28’), Brosque (51’)
Red cards Petkovic (87’)
Yellow card: Jeggo (38’), Ryall (75’), Ferreira (86’), Djite (90’), Malik (101’), Gameiro (101’), Boogaard (101’), Antonis (108’)
Conditions: 16C, Dry