Sydney FC 2 - Newcastle Jets 0
Del-Piero - 37'
Chianese - 60'
A win to open the account at the beginning of a season is always a good start. For a team like Sydney FC who finished 7th last year, it shows that they'd gone away and done a wee bit of homework. Still, at this stage of the season when match fitness is still not 100% across the league, it's far to early to predict a whole heap.
Often a dog who is wounded will bite hard when they get the chance to; if Sydney was a dog who was wounded last season, then it has gone away; licked its sores and comes back with teeth.
Sydney's back four of Ryall, Bojic, Petkovic and Warren looked at relative ease at containing Virgili and Taggart (to be honest, I'm not even sure if Burns even had a shot for Newcastle), who appeared to play far too high up the park to even be serviced.
In contrast, the 4-5-1 formation of Sydney allowed Abbas and Garcia to float back and forth where required; this giving Del-Piero freedom to move into unmarked space. Indeed unlike a lot of sides where it is the stopper or sweeper who direct play from the back, Del-Piero was able to rally his troops from the front; with his back to goal. That takes a lot of experience and I seriously doubt whether there can even be as many as a dozen players in the world who are up to that task.
The first goal came through a passage of camped play and Del-Piero seemed to just walk through the defence at extremely slow speeds. Obviously this comes with deft ball control.
Chianese's goal came off a thrusting cut at about the hour when Del-Piero dragged Newcastle's keeper Mark Birighitti, one way, before a lay off to Chianese who let the ball rip with a tremendous deal of power.
What has this match taught us? Firstly that a disciplined back four is often a key to winning solid victories. People often forget that although strikers do need to put the ball into the back of the net, it is defenders who also need to stop opposing strikers from doing likewise.
Secondly and more importantly, that football in Australia belongs on free-to-air telly. The A-League isn't likely to churn out lots of 0-0 draws because Australian coaches don't play that way. We like the idea of winning far more than the idea of not losing. That can only be good for the game.
Thirdly, that Alessandro Del-Piero himself is an incredibly hard worker. Unlike many prima donnae who swan about up front; expecting the ball to be delivered to them, he fights. He also comes back to defend if the situation calls for it. Beyond about the 70th minute when he saw that his back four were tiring, he would come back and sort of occupy a faux Right-Back-Wing sort of position to counter Jacob Pepper; for the most part it worked. Pepper did pull off a shot in about the 92nd minute but that found its way conveniently on a bus on its way to Randwick.
2-0, three points, a clean sheet for Janjetovic and top of the league. Not bad for 90 minutes work.