Under-fire Sydney FC coach Frank Farina heaped praised on his players for earning a desperately needed 2-1 win over Perth Glory despite a week of 'adversity'.
It wasn't a pretty performance from the Sky Blues but after a run of just one win in nine outings, and a rough week - even by Sydney's invariably dramatic standards - it was a victory that partly released the pressure valve on Farina and his side.
"There's been a lot of adversity during the week," said Farina. "They were in the trenches and they fought hard the whole game.
"There's never a day or a game that I'm not proud of them. I'm sometimes disappointed but tonight they showed that they want to play, they want to do well.
''Players don't go out there to not perform or not try, but the attitude was very good and I'm pleased with the result.
"We had to win. It is a simple as that. It was a big pressure on players. They handled it extremely well.
"The pressure the team was under this week... it is a bit much to expect the team to play like world champions."
Perth edged Sydney in the possession stakes but it was the home side who took their chances with the goals a result of the Sky Blues' most creative outlets.
A typically classy pass from Alessandro Del Piero into the run of striker Ranko Despotovic set up the opener, while Terry Antonis scored a stunning strike midway through the second period for what proved to be the match-winner.
Farina reserved special praise for injury returnee Antonis, returning after an eight-month absence with a serious thigh injury, as well as club debutant Sasa Ognenovski.
The ongoing availability of the Young Socceroo captain, and the veteran national team defender will add much needed balance and depth to the Sky Blues' line-up as they continue their finals push.
"For them to step into the pressure-cooker situation and help the others was very good," said Farina.
"We have handled him (Antonis) with kid gloves. He had a career threatening injury. That (performance) is why he was the Young Socceroo captain and got offered a contract with Parma.
"If we tried to rush him back earlier, that boy might not have been playing football anymore. To see him come out of the dark tunnel and perform in his first game with the first team … I'm really happy for him. He's a smashing young kid and he scored a great goal.''
Ognenovski's powerful presence was another bonus for Farina, with the former Umm Salal central defender seeking to press his claims for Ange Postecoglou's Brazil 2014 squad.
''He's beast of a man. He's a scary big fella,'' said Farina. ''He's a good defender and he's a real professional on and off the field.
"It's his first game for a few months and it shows that he looks after himself. He's got a goal - he wants to make the World Cup squad - and he'll only get better.''comments