Del Piero, Emerton rescue below-par Sydney
A sub-standard Sydney FC rode their luck heavily but big guns Alessandro Del Piero and Brett Emerton produced when it mattered in a 2-1 A-League triumph over 10-man Perth Glory on Sunday.
The Sky Blues were well off their best in front of 22,128 fans at ANZ Stadium, trailed 1-0 at halftime but somehow escaped with three points as both of their marquee players scored in the second half.
Sydney also survived a late penalty shout, with Glory coach Ian Ferguson furious a hand ball was not called on Rhyan Grant in the 88th minute.
Sky Blues coach Ian Crook admitted it probably should have been given but said his team showed character in securing back-to-back wins.
“It was disappointing in a lot of areas but in the end I have to give the boys credit because they dug in,” Crook said.
“Somebody said to me the sign of a good side is a side that can win when it’s not at its best.”
Travis Dodd had put the Glory ahead with an 18th minute goal but the visitors went a man down in the second half as Steve Pantelidis was shown a red card for a clear foul on Emerton.
Ferguson had no complaints about that decision but felt his side had been robbed of a chance to equalise with a late penalty.
“I would like to get it clarified, what is a penalty,” Ferguson said.
“Because I’ve seen it so many times where a player raises his hands and it hits his hands and sometimes it’s given, sometimes it not.
“His (Grant’s) hands leave his side. It’s a penalty, he’s stopped the cross, but the referee said it was accidental.”
After losing their first two games, the Sky Blues have now climbed into the top six and sit alongside Perth on six points.
It was all the the Glory in the first half and they deservedly took the lead when Dodd capitalised on some woeful defence early.
But the game changed against the run of play after the break when Pantelidis brought Emerton down in the box, with Del Piero stepping up to convert the penalty in the 58th minute to score for the third successive game.
The Italian superstar surprisingly started the game at the point of attack in an attempt by Crook to save his legs and he had a quiet game by his standards.
He even appeared to miskick his penalty before it trickled in off the left upright.
With Sydney back on level terms and a man up, Emerton secured the lead in the 70th minute after an industrious Grant stole possession from Liam Miller on the edge of the penalty box.
Emerton pounced and showed his class with a delightful chip kick over Danny Vukovic, before Sydney survived a late Perth onslaught.
“That’s why people like (Del Piero) and Emmo have gone where they have in the game, because they have a desire and an ability to be able to dig deep when things are going well,” Crook said.
“Today both of them turned up trumps when we needed them.”© AAP 2013
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