Sydney FC were relieved to simply scrape through against Melbourne City as the FFA Cup turned up the heat in chilly Ballarat on Tuesday night.Bernie Ibini admitted Sydney FC were relieved just to progress to the round of 16 of the FFA Cup after a scrappy 3-1 extra time victory over Melbourne City in Ballarat on Tuesday night.
Ali Abbas scored twice from the penalty spot in the second half of extra time to give the Sky Blues victory on a chilly night in country Victoria.
It also gave Sydney early bragging rights heading into the A-League season opener at Allianz Stadium against John van 't Schip's men.
Earlier in the night, Corey Gameiro capitalised on a mistake by City keeper Andy Redmayne to give the visitors an early lead at Morshead Park.
Nick Kalmar equalised in the second half for City to take the game into extra time.
“It was a tough game, Melbourne City gave us a tough game and we’re just happy to get through to the next round,” Ibini, one of the A-League All Stars against Juventus, said.
“It wasn’t the most convincing game but it’s very early in the pre-season so hopefully we can get better by the next round.”
An under strength Sydney outfit were missing a host of stars including marquee striker Marc Janko and Ibini admitted the Sky Blues still have plenty of improvement left to do.
“Yeah definitely, there was quite a few players out. I played on Sunday (for the A-League All Stars) ... I had to backup on Tuesday so it was very tough for me,” said Sydney's new striker.
“We’ve got a lot of players to come back so it will make it a lot tougher to fight for positions so we will be looking forward to that.”
Sydney United 58 coach Mark Rudan, meanwhile, says he is eyeing a potential blockbuster clash with the Sky Blues after the former NSL giants easily accounted for FNQ Heat 4-1 on Tuesday night.
A second-half brace from former Wellington striker Mirjan Pavlovic put the seal on a dominant performance for the hosts in miserable conditions at Edensor Park.
“It’s big, it’s a big result. We’re hoping to get another home game, hopefully against an A-League opposition,” Rudan said.
“We would like to get an A-League side from Sydney at home, it’s certainly good for the club that we’re still involved and we’ll give it a good crack.”
United dominated the match from the outset against the youthful Cairns-based outfit and Rudan admitted he was confident that his side’s quality would eventually tell.
“As far as we were concerned it was all about us, making sure the structure was right and I thought we got what we deserved,” he said.
“We’ve got a good side and they were up for the game. It was just a matter of moving them around and making sure they didn’t have the ball.”
“It was a good result and a good performance as well. I thought we started quite well, kept a lot of possession, the first goal was always going to be important particularly at home.
“We could have pushed on for a second one, we had some really good opportunities but the second half we just put it to bed.”