|By JOHN GRECO
Sydney FC coach Frank Farina said he has no problem with Ali Abbas' reaction to his first-half substitution, despite the midfielder getting involved in a heated war of words with team-mate Alessandro Del Piero.
The Sky Blues breathed new life into their season with two late goals handing them a memorable 2-1 win over the Melbourne Heart at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.
But it was the altercation between Abbas and Del Piero towards the end of the first half that shocked many, with the pair appearing to exchange insults even while the play continued.
And it continued at half-time as they headed down the tunnel, with Sydney FC goalkeeper coach Zeljko Kalac forced to step in between the two before shepherding Abbas up the tunnel.
The incident was sparked when Farina decided to replace the Iraqi for youngster Blake Powell six minutes before the break, with Sydney already trailing to Richard Garcia's goal.
Farina tried to play down the spat after the match and insisted it was his call - not Del Piero's - to make the early substitution.
He refused to reveal what was said between the duo but is confident it will not be an issue and he defended Abbas' petulant reaction.
"I've seen a lot worse on football fields and in dressing rooms," Farina said.
"He's [Abbas] a good kid and he always gives 100 percent. Someone had to make way and Ali had to make way this time.
"But I love that. We can talk about it all day but it's something I handle within the team and I love fiery characters.
"I'd rather be trying to tone that down than have to give it to people."
When asked why he decided to take Abbas off so early in proceedings, the Sky Blues boss said: "We're playing at home and we should be bullying people and we were getting bullied in that first half.
"When you're getting bullied you have got to respond and that was my response. It was good to see the players can fire up over that.
"I'd rather that any day of the week than people who just accept things that are said.
"It's not a problem. And I'm not going to apologise for anything.
"I don't care because at the end of the day if we don't win games of football I'll go before any of them."
Asked what this win does for the team's finals chances, Farina said: "Nothing if we don't win next week.
"I said this week the next two home games we have to take maximum points.
"The first part of the jigsaw is in and if we can beat Wellington next week then we can maybe talk about a possible [finals] push."
Opposing coach John Aloisi, meanwhile, rued more lost points for his Heart side.
Heart appeared on track for a third straight win when they led 1-0 with less than six minutes, having outplayed their opponents for large parts of the game.
It continues a worrying trend for the Heart, who have made a habit this season of conceding late goals.
They lost the derby to a stoppage-time Archie Thompson strike, while Aloisi's troops also squandered a two-goal second-half lead in going down 3-2 to Wellington in December.
"Because we've conceded late on in games the players get a bit anxious towards the end," Aloisi said of his side's tendency to concede late goals.
"Our game is to try and keep ball as long as possible. We haven't got a squad that is (suited) to sit back and have two banks of four.
"We just don't have the players to do it and sometimes it might be the reason why we don't close out a game 1-0.
"We've got players that are good on the ball and that's why we've selected them.
"You can also win games 1-0 by keeping possession of the ball but we didn't do that well enough in second half."