Adelaide United has suffered a third straight defeat after falling 2-1 to Sydney FC at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday night.
Riley McGree scored his seventh league goal of the season on his return from injury for the Reds, but it was not enough after Paulo Retre scored twice in quick succession.
McGree featured in the starting line-up for the first time in a month in what was the only change for Gertjan Verbeek’s side from the week before. The 21-year-old pushed George Blackwood up front with Al Hassan Toure away on international duty with the Olyroos. Kristian Opseth was also back from injury but was only fit enough to start from the bench.
Adelaide made a bright start and Ryan Strain went inches away from scoring his first professional goal when his left-footed strike rattled the crossbar.
Blackwood then had the ball in the back of the net, heading in Strain’s cross, but it was swiftly ruled out as the referee spotted a slight shove in the process.
But despite a positive beginning to the match, the Reds were forced on to the back foot.
Paul Izzo made a great stop at full stretch with his right foot to deny Adam Le Fondre.
Moments later Sydney had two chances to score. Kosta Barbarouses was denied by the onrushing Izzo, but he managed to whip a cross back in for Adam Le Fondre, whose header was acrobatically saved off the line and onto the crossbar by Jordan Elsey.
But his efforts went in vain as the Reds conceded off the subsequent corner when Harry Van der Saag’s header was saved but followed in by Retre on the rebound in the 20th minute.
Six minutes later, the ladder leaders doubled their advantage again through Retre.
Alexander Baumjohann skipped past Michaël Maria down the right flank, before finding Barbarouses and he spotted the unmarked midfielder, who arrowed his low finish beyond Izzo.
United got back into the contest and reduced the deficit after McGree bagged his seventh goal of the league season, turning home James Troisi’s set-piece.
Adelaide dominated the second-half for large periods but struggled to breakdown Sydney’s defence and test Andrew Redmayne.
Elsey came the closest in the second stanza when the Sky Blues failed to adequately clear a corner and the ball fell to the centre-back but he could not keep his attempt down from the six-yard box.
The result means the Reds are now winless in their previous 11 league matches against Sydney and drop to sixth place on the table.
5’ | CHANCE! Strain rattles the crossbar with a left-footed strike from outside of the box.
10′ | SAVE! Paul Izzo makes a great save with his foot to deny Barbarouses from close range.
20’ | GOAL: Van der Saag’s header from the corner is parried by Izzo but only as far as Retre who is there to volley home on the follow up.
26’ | GOAL: Retre gets his second with a controlled finish after being left unmarked at the edge of the area.
38’ | GOAL! Troisi’s set-piece is guided home by McGree’s deft volley.
68’ | CHANCE! The ball drops to Elsey but he scoops the ball over the bar.
Saturday, 4 January 2020
Hyundai A-League 2019/20 Season – Round 13
Sydney FC 2 (Retre 20’ 26’)
Adelaide United 1 (McGree 38’)
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium