Sydney FC produced another inspired Champions League performance to put themselves in with an excellent chance of reaching the competition’s playoff stages for the first time in its history.
Much remains to be done but, with three rounds left to play, the Sky Blues lead the group by two points and could confound their critics to end the season on a high after all. Graham Arnold deserves credit for setting out his stall in an attacking formation in Korea, as do the players for being inspired to play for a win away from home.
It was a funny sort of game though. In many respects, it resembled a game of park football:
Line up in a 4-4-2 – check.
When you win the ball, lump it to the two big guys up front – check.
The back four doesn’t cross the halfway line unless there’s a ball to be won – check.
If the ball bounces free, give it to the skilful bloke with the long ethnic name in the middle of the park – check.
In a display Claudio Ranieri would have been proud of, the Sky Blues chased, pressured and harassed the hosts to the point of exhaustion, taking advantage of their opponents’ early-season uncertainty. On this display, Pohang will not win the Champions league this season and may struggle domestically following an offseason player fire-sale.
Sydney’s pressing game worked a treat and the front four of Andrew Hoole, Chris Naumoff, George Blackwood and Matt Simon all put in massive efforts to deny the hosts time and space, the pressure leading to turnovers by the Koreans.