Kosta Barbarouses rediscovered his scoring boots at long last as Sydney FC reasserted their A-League credentials in style with an impressive 2-1 win over Wellington Phoenix.
It had been almost a full year since Barbarouses had last found the back of the net from open play, but a tidy brace got the monkey off his back and rounded off a successful night at the office for the reigning champions.
Kosta Barbarouses celebrates his second goal against Wellington on Monday night.Credit:Getty
has teammate Alex Baumjohann to thank for the sumptuous pass that set up his first goal just after the half-hour mark at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Monday night.
Baumjohann’s perfectly weighted through ball picked out Barbarouses as he ran through a trio of Wellington defenders, and the 30-year-old matched it, producing an expert finish on an acute angle to give Sydney the lead.
The New Zealand international smashed home his second goal in the 64th minute from the edge of the penalty box after a long ball from Andrew Redmayne was flicked on by substitute Jordan Swibel.
The Phoenix started brightly, testing Redmayne’s reflexes with a flurry of early chances, and continued to probe in the second half with skipper Ulises Davila at the forefront of their attacking play as usual.
Davila even had his own cheer squad, with a crew of flag-waving Mexican expats on hand in Kogarah to show their support for the former Chelsea prospect.
Three minutes into the second half, Davila almost gave them the moment they were hanging out for when he clattered the woodwork in a let-off for the Sky Blues – although he gave them what they came for with a spectacular long-range shot in stoppage time that deflected past Redmayne.
It sparked a chase for an unlikely equaliser for Wellington, and they came agonisingly close in the final moments when a header from Louis Fenton landed on top of the crossbar.
The only sour note for the hosts was a late injury to Chris Zuvela, who had to be stretchered from the ground in the dying moments after landing awkwardly from a challenge on Tim Payne. Zuvela immediately went down clutching his knee and, having only recently recovered from an ACL rupture, will be desperately hoping history hasn’t repeated.
The pressure was on Barbarouses to find his touch in front of goal after a lacklustre start to the season from both him and Trent Buhagiar, given that former A-League Golden Boot Bobo is closing in on his first appearance for Sydney since re-signing for the club.
Buhagiar didn’t play against the Phoenix because of a knee injury, and Anthony Caceres and Paulo Retre were dropped from the starting line-up to make way for Baumjohann and the nimble Calem Nieuwenhof.
The changes worked for Sydney, who now have three wins from their first five matches.
Wellington, despite a series of aesthetically pleasing performances, are just goal difference ahead of bottom-placed Melbourne Victory on four points.
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