All things considered, the most entertaining club football match of the weekend may have occurred in Australia. Two international stars stole headlines heading into the Sydney FC vs. Newcastle Jets contest, and both men were responsible for highlight reel finishes in the first half of play. Despite being outplayed for much of the final 45 minutes of action, it was the visitors who held onto a 3-2 lead until the final whistle, keeping Sydney at the very bottom of the league table with zero points in two matches.
Sydney FC 2-3 Newcastle Jets: Nervy start
Allianz Stadium was full of Sydney blue on Saturday evening, but Newcastle were the more calm and collected side during the opening ten minutes of play. The Jets took advantage of the first of many Sydney miscues twelve minutes into the match, when they silenced the home crowd with an early goal. A corner was swung into the Sydney penalty area, and Trent McClenahan attempted to head the ball away from danger. His header instead deflected off of the arm of a teammate, and Ryan Griffiths was there to deposit the rebound.
Sydney FC 2-3 Newcastle Jets: Worth the hype
He may no longer be able to consistently play 90 minutes in one of Europe's best leagues, but new Sydney signing Alessandro Del Piero can definitely still go. Del Piero put on a dribbling and passing clinic throughout the game, and he leveled the match four minutes before the half-hour mark after winning a foul from roughly 25 meters out. Del Piero, as he did time after time after time while with Juve, hit a curling strike that sailed over the wall and into the back of the net, a tremendous goal that opened his A-League account. The TV commentators stated even before Del Piero approached the ball that Newcastle goalkeeper Ben Kennedy could have done better in positioning himself. I'm not sure, upon watching replays from several angles, that it would have mattered all that much.
Sydney FC 2-3 Newcastle Jets: An answer
Emile Heskey was not to be outdone by Del Piero. A silly turnover by Sydney on their own side of the field allowed the Jets to eventually make their way into the right portion of the penalty area. Griffiths attempted to play a cross toward the center of the box, but Terry McFlynn got in the way of the pass. McFlynn lost his footing while doing so, however, giving Griffiths a second opportunity to deliver a cross. Griffiths' second ball was spot-on, and Heskey did well to hold off a defender while swinging his right leg around and hammering a volley into the right portion of goal.
Sydney FC 2-3 Newcastle Jets: Another costly error
Sydney were again guilty of an inexcusable error 18 minutes after the break, and this mistake would prove to be the fatal one of the evening. Adam Griffiths, brother of Ryan, turned the ball over in the defensive third, and Newcastle's Griffiths again made the hosts pay. Ryan Griffiths played a low through ball between two defenders and into the box for teammate Craig Goodwin. With Sydney too concerned about playing a lackadaisical offside trap, Goodwin was gifted with plenty of time and space to chip goalkeeper Ivan Necevski and score the first goal of his A-League career.
Sydney FC 2-3 Newcastle Jets: Not enough
Sydney dominated the final 20 minutes of the game, but they were unable to completely close the gap. Blake Powell brought Sydney to within one when he nodded home his debut goal 16 minutes from time, and fans were then treated to the Del Piero show. Del Piero brilliantly set teammates up while in the final third on three occasions. Two of those chances were squandered, and one was cleared off the line by Bernardo Ribeiro. It just wasn't meant to be for Del Piero and the home side on this evening, and Newcastle held on for their first win of the campaign.
Sydney FC 2-3 Newcastle Jets: Conclusion
Both Del Piero and Heskey are in the twilight of their careers. There's no denying that fact. Both reminded fans and analysts on Saturday that they are still capable of producing magic, although it does appear that Del Piero may have a tougher go of it as the two marquee players complete their first A-League season. A week after the A-League broke records for in-person match attendance and TV viewers, over 35,000 fans made the trek to Allianz Stadium to watch this contest. Not a single person who was at the venue from match kickoff to the final whistle can justifiably complain about not being entertained, and that's not just because of the big-name footballers who were on the pitch. This was a fun and exciting football match, one I'd catch on replay over the upcoming week if you have the chance.
- Sports & Recreation
- Sydney FC
- Alessandro Del Piero