No one could have predicted that scoreline. Finally, the eastern(ish) half of Sydney has cause to celebrate their football team this season. Next up, Sydney FC travel to AAMI Park to play Melbourne Victory. That will certainly test the Sky Blues’ new-found confidence. Can’t wait.
Full-time: Del Piero on the sideline: “Really happy but 7-1 is like 1-0. It’s three points and we concentrate on the next one.” On Griffiths, he says: “Nice, he play very good… we are very happy with him on our team.”
Joel steps up to return the favour. On the vibe among his teammates, he says: “It’s definitely up there. Confidence is high. It helps when Del Piero is on song. For myself especially … he’s a genius.” More generally, he adds: “We worked well off the ball and I think it showed … Felt like a first day at school for me today. Probably could have got more minutes to be honest.”
93rd minute: Ifill puts the ball into the stands, Alex Smith tries to curl one in. Both to no avail as time winds down on a humiliating defeat.
89th minute: There’s no mercy rule in this game unfortunately for Wellington. Brockie, though, plays in Ifill, whose shot, from an awkward angle, somehow hits the underside of the bar. Brockie gets the second (or third) ball but can’t shoot past Janjetovic. The keeper has had a lot to do tonight despite the scoreline.
88th minute: Durante seizes on a loose ball but thumps it straight at Janjetovic. Emerton doesn’t do much better at the other end, shooting from an acute angle and finding the side netting.
84th minute: YAU GOAL! From broken play, Yau plays a one-two through a deserted Phoenix defence. It’s all too easy, and his right-foot stunner mocks poor Paston in goal. That smacked of capitulation by Phoenix.
83nd minute: The sting has gone out of the game somewhat, until Del Piero’s number is called. He’s being replaced by Powell. Standing ovation. He acknowledges the crowd.
79th minute: The words “carnage” and “entrails” are being used in the commentary box to describe the damage wrought on the sorry Phoenix. But what word for this… ? Sigmund GOAL! Ifill crossed from the right and Sigmund had no marker to contend with. We’ll use the words “desperate consolation”. Doesn’t quite have the same sense of dismemberment, however.
75th minute: Correction. It was poor Durante bamboozled by the dancing feet of The Artist known as ADP. Ifill has a crack at a volley from a speculative ball and it swerves violently wide. Looked an act of frustration but more likely he feels, what the hell?
He cuts inside then jinks back behind the defender, in this case Bertos, on the fringes of the box. Del Piero just takes his time with way too much space and class. Another perfect curling shot gives Paston no chance. Finally, the resilient Del Piero fans in Turin have something to cheer at some ungodly hour.
70th minute: FOUR GOALS DEL PIERO!!!!!!
65th minute: Griffiths gets a good reception when he’s brought off for Yau. Silence for Huysegems when he makes way for the talismanic Ifill. Lochhead’s cross is headed into the arms of Janjetovic by Brockie as he falls away across the goal line.
60th minute: Sanchez goes for a jinking run but his final shot is off target. Boyd makes amends somewhat by forcing a foul when cutting back inside the Sydney defence. The two subsequent corners come to nought. Del Piero this time gets the ball through but Culina is ruled offside.
59th minute: Bertos delivers a great cross from the right, and the ball breaks for Tyler inside the box. The youngster needs to pull the trigger but hesitates while looking to shoot off his less dominant foot.
55th minute: Identical situation for Del Piero. Plenty of space coming out of defence and his pass is just intercepted. One of these might bisect the defence yet. The Italian grasps his head. McLenahan on for Calvano.
52nd minute: Fabio on the break, in an advancing three-on-three situation. He blasts the ball on the angle but Paston gets a right hand to the ball. Parried away. Del Piero was unmarked on the inside. Missed chance for 6-0.
51st minute: Del Piero again with swathes of space out of defence and into midfield. He threads the needle and Durante only just gets a boot to the pass that would have found Griffiths with just the keeper to beat.
46th minute: Brockie fouls Fabio just after the restart. Sigmund brings down Del Piero from behind to earn a yellow card. The Italian is sprawled out on the pitch. Herbert may have given them the word in the sheds: get serious, get physical. Glancing header from Griffiths a shade off target from a Culina free kick. It followed good build-up work from Sydney with Culina ever-present.
Half-time: Don’t know about the players, but I need a breather. Most uncharacteristic, Sydney. Most uncharacteristic. Five goals in a half? Tell ’em they’re dreamin’. Back soon.
46th minute: Two minutes of added time. Del Piero hasn’t been allowed this much space in a while and he looks likely every time he’s on the ball. The early goals opened up a game that was already likely to be a bit fast and loose.
44rd minute: Whoever prayed to Jude, the patron saint of hopless causes, has obviously been listening. At this rate, with Sydney’s goal difference narrowing very quickly, they could be in the top six by 7.30 tonight. Bertos delivers a free kick from the right but Janjetovic tips it away.
40th minute: I had to double check the scoreboard. Five-nil? Wake me up. Meantime Grant has a bash to bring the stats closer to parity. It’s now 13-8 in terms of shots on goal. The surprise? Phoenix are leading on that count.
39th minute: HAT-TRICK DEL PIERO! Pandemonium!! Calmly cut back in from the left, curling right-foot shot gives Paston no chance. Bertos was mesmerised.
34th minute: Frankie’s animated on the sideline but he must be pleased. Sydney, on the break via Griffiths, surge forward. Grant plays a one-two in the box his cross is saved and play moves rapidly down the other end where Boyd has another shot on goal. Again Janjetovic saves well.
30th minute: They’re shell-shocked. No one in their right mind could have forseen this. On their knees. And that’s just the Sydney FC fans giving thanks to whatever diety inspired this madness. Huysegems butchers another chance, heading tamely into the side netting. Sanchez launches a bomb, saved by Janjetovic, and then Brockie directs a his curling header straight at the keeper. Wellington have had plenty of shots on goal but they’re lacking the kind of grace attending the locals tonight. Now Boyd puts one wide.
26th minute: IMPOSSIBLE. It’s 4-0! Culina right-foot volley from the corner of the box. Sydney fans are delirious. Including last week’s late brace, Sydney have now scored 6 goals in 35 minutes.
23rd minute: GOAL! Del Piero. Penalty. Wild scenes here at SFS. Very lucky penalty to be given after Culina was clattered into in the box by Durante. They both appeared, at first glance, equally culpable. But The Cove don’t care! First time this season they’re scored three in a game. And in 23 minutes no less. Joel Giffiths has had a bit of an impact.
The maestro toyed with the Wellington defenders in the box, turning this way and then that, before launching the perfect strike goal bound.
21st minute: GOAL! Del Piero. Here we go. Here we go.
19th minute: It’s end to end action. Ryall puts the ball into the net off a neat turn in the box but it’s a hand ball. Earlier, Fabio blazed over the bar with space to burn on the left.
16th minute: Del Piero is fouled but off the restart floats a wonderful ball to Emerton on the right. Emo finds Griffiths timing his run into the box to perfection but the header goes awry. Moments later, Huysegems volleys into the side netting at the other end.
14th minute: Rhyan Grant does well to block Jermey Brockie, who had got in behind the Sydney defence. Replays show Griffiths’ reaction to his goal: he jumped the hoardings but otherwise restrained himself. One goal a good return for under 10 minutes work in the sky blue.
12th minute: Janjetovic makes a simple save from a weak header.
Del Piero through ball released Griffiths, who beat the offside trap this time and got the faintest of touches to the ball. That touch was enough to beat the advancing Phoenix keeper Paston.
11th minute: GOAL to Griffiths on debut!
9th minute: Finally Griffiths gets a run on and Abbas puts him in the clear down the left again. Offside. Joel gives a rueful shake of the head. Strikers always thing they’re onside.
7th minute: Griffifths gets a first touch and it goes straight over the sideline. Ignominious beginning. Emerton then releases Fabio on the left and he’s brought down unceremoniously by young Tyler Boyd.
4th minute: Wellington dominating the early possession with Leo Bertos prominent. Stein Huysegems is put through on goal for a one on one with Janjetovic but he fluffs his shot. Weak effort.
Terry McFlynn with the armband. Tiago Calvano and Joel Griffiths come straight into the Sydney FC line-up.
Joel Griffiths hasn’t watched Sydney FC’s last two matches. He says he prefers not to muddy his “canvas” with preconceptions about how his new side plays. After all, the 33-year-old is onto his 10th professional club. He knows to play the ball to Del Piero’s feet and into space for Emerton. Given the Sky Blues’ disjointed recent displays, it’s probably a good approach as he makes his debut.
The Phoenix have been similarly discombobulated, thrown into a state of confusion by an owner dictating the game plan before hearing it from the coach. The all-new, all-attacking Phoenix is a work in progress. It’s the perfect time for Sydney to play the Wellingtonians. At stake is who sits where on the bottom three rungs of the ladder.
Join me for the live blog from 5.20. Kick-off is at 5.30pm.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.