Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey were both on the scoresheet as the Newcastle Jets recorded an entertaining 3-2 win over Sydney FC.
|By JOHN GRECO
Marquee men Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey both got on the scoresheet as Newcastle edged out Sydney FC 3-2 in a pulsating A-League clash at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
In front of a record regular season Sydney crowd of 35,419, the international stars both showed their class with impressive goals but it was the Jets who held on for a crucial victory.
After Ryan Griffiths gave the Jets an early lead, Del Piero gave the home fans what they wanted and started repaying his $2 million-a-season price tag with a scorching free-kick from 25 yards.
Goals to Heskey and the sensational Craig Goodwin either side of the break had the Jets cruising before Blake Powell gave the home side hope with a header 15 minutes from time.
Spurred on by the vocal home support, Sydney pushed hard for a winner but it never came and they have now lost their opening two games ahead of next weekend's local derby.
The huge crowd figure surpasses the club's previous regular season record of 33,458 in a game against the Melbourne Victory in January 2008.
The Jets silenced the home fans inside 12 minutes with Griffiths capitalising on some poor Sydney defence to score.
Goodwin swung the ball in from the right, with Trent McClenahan's clearing header rebounding into Brett Emerton and falling perfectly into Griffiths' path to slam home from close range.
The Jets had two chances within the next two minutes to double their lead, with Goodwin rattling the post with a fierce drive before Heskey headed wide with the goal gaping.
Sydney were struggling to create much going forward but Del Piero provided the first bit of brilliance when he beat Tiago with a step-over only to blast his shot over the bar.
His next involvement was more telling.
After he won a free-kick, Del Piero stepped up himself and curled a sublime 25-yard shot over the wall and past a despairing Ben Kennedy.
It took less than 15 minutes for the Jets' marquee man to respond with a goal of his own.
Griffiths was again involved, surging down the right and into the box before crossing for the Englishman to volley past a stranded Ivan Necevski to give the visitors the lead at the break.
In an effort to get more thrust down the right, Sydney coach Ian Crook decided to push Brett Emerton further forward but it was Necevski who was still being kept busy at the start of the second half.
The in-form shot-stopper had to be alert to save from Griffiths' left-foot volley before diving to his right to parry away Ruben Zadkovich's stinging free-kick a minute later.
Sky Blues substitute Sebastian Ryall missed a glorious chance for an equaliser on the hour and it prove costly as just two minutes later the visitors struck.
And it was fitting that it was Goodwin that claimed it as the former Melbourne Heart man was put through one-on-one with Necevski and produced a classy chip to make it 3-1.
The home side halved the deficit with just over 15 minutes left when debutant Powell headed home Emerton's cross to set up a grandstand finish.
Sydney almost equalised when Del Piero's corner was met with a sweet volley by Kruno Lovrek but Bernardo Ribeiro headed the ball off the line to secure the Jets' first win of the campaign.Goal Australia has its own and account, so for all the latest news and features on Australian football follow us by clicking on the above links