The Western Sydney Wanderers have claimed bragging rights in the first derby at the new Allianz Stadium, claiming a 1-0 win over arch-rivals Sydney FC to move to second on the ladder.
Once the hottest rivalry on the Australian sporting landscape, there’s no denying that the nomadic existence of the Sky Blues over the past couple of seasons contributed to the feud cooling off slightly – but the atmosphere picked up right where it left off in 2018, when these two teams last met at the old stadium.
34,232 packed into Moore Park this time, and adding fuel to the fire was the cross-town transfer of Milos Ninkovic, who provided the assist for the winner – and could well have had a goal of his own.
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What preceded the goal by a couple of minutes might be the biggest cheer The Cove has ever given Ninkovic.
Their former hero found himself in acres of space inside the Sky Blues’ penalty area, but with all the time in the world he could only dab a weak finish straight into the oncoming Andrew Redmayne - prompting disbelief from the Red and Black Bloc behind the goal, and ironic fanfare up the other end.
Ninkovic spurns golden chance
The home fans would soon fall quiet, however, when Ninkovic’s pass found Kusini Yengi, who cut back past two would-be tackles and lashed the ball past a helpless Redmayne.
“It’s been amazing – I said even before the game, it’s my favourite stadium, I have so many great memories here, you know?” Ninkovic said after the game.
Some Sydney fans had burned Ninkovic’s old jersey before the match, but the man himself seemed far less bitter, not even dwelling on that incredible chance he spurned.
“I had a chance before that and obviously I probably should have scored – but it doesn’t matter.
“We won the game, and that’s the most important thing.”
Wanderers had been by far the better team in the first half but had little to show for it, with the contest coming alive after the interval – first with Sydney import Robert Mak testing Lawrence Thomas from a sharp angle.
But that was a half-chance, unlike Yengi’s effort four minutes later – he caught defender James Donachie dallying on the ball, but blazed his shot wide with most of Andrew Redmayne’s goal to aim at.
While that was a big opportunity, he would more than make up for it later on.
It was a deserved win for the visitors but Steve Corica’s team had a couple of chances
Patrick Yazbek’s deflected effort was well stopped by Thomas in the final ten minutes, before young guns Adrian Segecic and Jaiden Kucharski both flashed wide in the dying embers of the contest.
Segecic’s chance in particular was a golden one, but he blazed over from close range with the goal begging.
Like most leagues around the world, the A-League will go on hiatus after this round, with the Sky Blues back in action against Melbourne City on December 10th, and Wanderers facing Wellington Phoenix that same afternoon.
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