Alessandro Del Piero has scored again for Sydney FC to help his new side to their first victory of the season against cross-town rivals Western Sydney Wanderers
|By JOHN GRECO
A second-half strike from Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero was enough for Sydney FC to win the first-ever Harbour City derby, edging out the Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday night.
In a scrappy but hard-fought local derby, Del Piero's 54th-minute goal, which came on the rebound from his saved penalty shot, settled the issue and handed the Sky Blues - and new coach Ian Crook - their first win of the season.
After receiving the ball just inside the Wanderers box, Del Piero twisted and turned his way past three defenders only to be caught by the trailing leg of Aaron Mooy.
The former Juventus skipper coolly converted the spot kick only for referee Strebre Delovski to order a retake after a couple of Sky Blues encroached into the penalty area.
Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic managed to save Del Piero's second attempt but the rebound fell straight back to the Sydney striker, who controlled the ball with his left foot before blasting it into the roof of the net.
The home side pushed hard for an equaliser but again lacked the finishing touch, with Sydney holding on for a vital three points in front of almost 20,000 fans.
While the Sky Blues have broken their duck and moved off the foot of the ladder, the Wanderers are still searching for their first win, and goal, of their existence.
Sydney's poor start to the season saw skipper Terry McFlynn dropped to the bench but it was the visitors that made the brighter start.
After scoring with a blistering free kick last weekend, Sydney's marquee man Del Piero almost repeated the trick on 11 minutes, with his 35-metre thunderbolt sailing just over the bar.
The veteran Italian went even closer a minute later after Michael Beauchamp's sloppy pass was intercepted by Brett Emerton 25 metres from goal.
The Socceroo midfielder combined with Kruno Lovrek to set up Del Piero just inside the box but his shot was at a comfortable height for Covic to parry to safety.
The Wanderers eventually overcame their early nerves and when they were able to keep the ball for longer periods began to create their own chances.
Left-back Adam D'Apuzzo, who has never scored an A-League goal, had Sky Blues keeper Ivan Necevski at full stretch to tip his curling shot over the bar.
Covic had to be alert to keep out Sebastian Ryall's back-post header from another Del Piero free-kick but the best chance of the half came for the home side right at the death.
The impressive Mooy struck a powerful free-kick which Necevski couldn't handle and the Sky Blues defence managed to block Mark Bridge's follow-up header wide of the post.
The key moment of the match followed just after the break, when Del Piero scored to give the visitors the lead.
The setback sprung the Wanderers to life with Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Dino Kresinger both wasting good opportunities with headers wide of the mark.
Former Sydney FC striker Mark Bridge had an unhappy night in front of goal and when he glanced Shinji Ono's cross just over the bar late on it was to be the Sky Blues to get early bragging rights over their new neighbours.