Western Sydney Wanderers embarrassed rivals Sydney FC 4-0 at Allianz Stadium in the third Sydney Derby of 2022-23, giving them season bragging rights after the 1-0 victory at the same venue back in November.
First-half strikes from Kusini Yengi and Amor Layouni put Marko Rudan’s side in control before ex-Sydney man Calem Nieuwenhof rubbed salt in the wound with a wonder strike from outside the box, and Layouni completed his brace to seal a famous victory for the red and black.
After another miserable night at Allianz for the Sky Blues, it’s Sydney’s 10th loss this season. Meanwhile, Wanderers go up to third.
The opening exchanges were roughly split as both sides, each coming off losses last time out, attempted to settle into the contest.
The home side, tenuously holding on to their place in the top six, appeared nervous early on with some sloppy passing out from the back.
And it was the Wanderers who took an early lead after Yengi scored his second derby goal of the season. A great through ball from recalled Socceroo Brandon Borrello found Amor Layouni, who drew in the horribly exposed Andrew Redmayne and squared for Yengi who made no mistake, finishing easily into the empty net.
Steve Corica’s side would now be forced to take the initiative to get back into the game.
Soon after the goal the Sydney FC boss was forced into a change, with injured centre-half James Donachie replaced by marquee off-season signing Jack Rodwell.
But things would only get worse for the Sky Blues as Layouni doubled Western Sydney’s advantage in the 21st minute, finishing cooly past Redmayne after he was played in by a trademark deft Milos Ninkovic pass, the Serbian coming back to haunt his old side with another derby assist.
Sydney were shell-shocked, their supporters equally shocked as quiet fell over the home end.
The home side’s best chance of the first 35 minutes came through substitute Rodwell with a header from a set-piece, but Lawrence Thomas was up to the challenge and parried the former Manchester City man’s effort behind for a corner.
As Alireza Faghani blew for half-time, Marko Rudan’s men were in complete control and Corica had a huge team talk to deliver.
Sydney came out for the second half with more energy but couldn’t find the sharpness to penetrate their opponents’ defence. Corica went to his bench, bringing on Jaiden Kucharski in place of Joel King.
Enter former Sky Blue Nieuwenhof. Finding himself in space outside the penalty area, the youngster got his revenge on the club who discarded him with a thunderous strike past the helpless Redmayne.
Twisting the knife, it was Ninkovic again with the assist.
Corica looked to Jake Girdwood-Reich for some inspiration off the bench, the Young Socceroo coming on to replace Paulo Retre.
The change didn’t have the intended effect, however, with Western Sydney going down the other end and scoring their fourth as Layouni grabbed his second goal of the evening with an easy finish after a counter-attack.
Well beaten, Sydney tried for a consolation goal but none came.
It was another horror night in a very unconvincing campaign for the Sky Blues. For the red and black contingent, however, pure jubilation.
Wanderers claim season bragging rights
That’s a wrap for the Sydney Derby in 2022-23. After three tense fixtures, Western Sydney claim the spoils and the bragging rights over their cross-town rivals. It’s been a season of regeneration in Parramatta under the tutelage of Marko Rudan, and the Wanderers’ fans will surely appreciate the emphasis the former Socceroo has placed on the heated rivalry with Sydney FC.
Class warfare nonsense aside, it’s clear the former centre-half was able to motivate his players more effectively than his counterpart in the home technical area, with the Sky Blues looking disinterested all night.
For Sydney it is another nail in the coffin for their 2022-23 campaign, with their best prospects now surely to scrape into the top six before an early exit from the finals series.
To further twist the knife, Ninkovic and Nieuwenhof were heavily involved in Wanderers’ success tonight.
Decent crowd brings atmosphere but we can do better
The Cove and the Red and Black Bloc were out in force, the home fans unfurling a colourful display featuring thousands of flags and a huge banner hanging from the Paddington end of Allianz Stadium. The noise was impressive throughout the 90 minutes, making for a great atmosphere inside Allianz Stadium.
Unfortunately, flares were also set off in the home end pre-game, as well as by the RBB after the opening goal.
All three derbies this season have been great spectacles in their own right and tonight was no exception, but a return to the days of sell-outs in Moore Park should be the next target for the APL and the two clubs.
Borrello vindicates national team recall
After earning a recall into Graham Arnold’s Socceroos squad for the upcoming two-match friendly series with Ecuador, Borrello put in another excellent shift for Wanderers. He won’t be credited with the assist for the opening goal but it was his perfectly weighted ball that sliced open the Sydney defence, allowing Layouni and Yengi to combine.
There’s certainly some handy options at Arnold’s disposal in the forward ranks, but with Borrello’s versatility he could potentially be deployed in a few different roles. We’ll wait and see whether the 27-year-old gets any actual minutes in Sydney or Melbourne.
Sydney FC 0
Western Sydney Wanderers 4 (Yengi 13′, Layouni 21′, 75′, Nieuwenhof 62′)
Image credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images