A goal to new boy Ranko Despotovic in the final minute of injury time has enabled 10-man Sydney FC to snatch a stunning 2-1 win over luckless Wellington.
A goal to new boy Ranko Despotovic in the final minute of injury time has enabled 10-man Sydney FC to snatch a stunning 2-1 win over luckless Wellington in a frenetic encounter at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
A pulsating game appeared headed for a draw when Phoenix equalised through Kenny Cunningham a minute into time added on but Serb Despotovic had the final say, rolling home the winner after a raid down the right from Seb Ryall.
Earlier a Richard Garcia rocket had given the Sky Blues a 1-0 lead.
The Sky Blues striker let fly with an unstoppable drive from the edge of the box on 35 minutes, cutting back in from the left and rifling his shot past Glenn Moss and into the top right-hand corner of the net.
The win consolidates Sydney’s spot in the top six but they did it the hard way after Pedj Bojic was sent off after receiving a second yellow card with 17 minutes left.
The visitors always threatened to grab an equaliser as they made the most of their numerical advantage and looked to have a pinched a valuable point through Cunningham until Sydney’s dramatic escape act.
Without a win this season, Wellington took the game to Sydney early, pouring forward and dominating possession.
Their best chance of an enterprising first half fell to Jeremy Brockie just after the half hour but he blasted his shot well over the bar from just outside the six-yard box with only keeper Vedran Janjetovic to beat.
Garcia’s goal came only minutes later and was just reward for the Sky Blues after they repelled the early Wellington onslaught and built into the game.
Alessandro Del Piero caused his usual problems, striking the left post with one effort, while Ali Abbas was just centimetres out with a drive across goal.
Sydney left the ground to a standing ovation at half-time and appeared to have the game in control until Bojic’s dismissal.
Vince Lia headed over the bar just minutes after Bojic’s departure when it would have been easier to score and then Cunningham struck the left post as Wellington turned up the heat.
Cunningham also had a headed goal disallowed for offside in the 89th minute but made up for it with his injury-time flick home.
But Despotovic’s late, late reply ensured the Sky Blues their first hat-trick of wins since 2009.
Sydney FC 2 (Garcia 35, Despotovic 90+)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Cunningham 90+)
Crowd: 14,503 @ Allianz Stadium