Brazilian striker Bobo has slammed home a hat-trick for a clinical Sydney FC to dispatch bottom-of-the-table Wellington 4-1 in their A-League clash.
Sydney has lost only one of its past nine matches against the Phoenix, and never looked like doubling that tally on Saturday in Wellington.
In Saturday night’s other clash, Melbourne Victory secured derby bragging rights with a very late 1-0 win over Melbourne City, thanks to an injury-time penalty slotted home by Mark Milligan.
The win is their sixth in a row since losing 2-0 in early November to Central Coast, coming against a Phoenix side under pressure after losing assistant coach Rado Vidosic and striker son Dario earlier in the week.
The defending champions were brutally quick to punish any Wellington errors, their first goal coming after 17 minutes as the hosts were caught out pushing forward.
Adrian Mierzejewski’s raking long ball found Michael Zullo in space down the left, the left back given plenty of time to fire in a low cross which Bobo volleyed home at full stretch for his eighth goal of the season.
Eight minutes later, Mierzejewski doubled the Sky Blues’ lead after Bobo turned provider with a centred cross which the Polish midfielder duly converted with a clinical right-foot finish.
Wellington looked chaotic at best, with little movement off the ball, yet still managed to claw a goal back three minutes from half-time.
Ranging high, Scott Galloway sent in the cross Andrija Kaludjerovic had been seeking, the Serbian striker rising high to nod home a looping header over Sydney keeper Andrew Redmayne.
It was the 30-year-old’s eighth goal this campaign, leaving him second behind Bobo as the A-League’s leading scorer as the season nears its halfway point.
Wellington started the second half brightly but Sydney’s defence held strong, and normal transmission resumed in the 58th minute when Mierzejewski’s cross left Bobo with the simplest of finishes from close range.
Bobo completed his hat-trick in the 86th minute, heading home a David Carney cross from the back post to complete a masterful performance.
Milligan’s penalty seals derby win for Victory at the death
Dean Bouzanis’ moment of madness has allowed Melbourne Victory to snatch a last-gasp 1-0 success in the A-League’s annual Christmas derby.
Melbourne City was second-best at AAMI Park but looked on to take a point out of the festive match.
That is, until Bouzanis’ clumsy trip on Mark Milligan brought a penalty, which was scored by the Socceroo in the 96th minute.
Victory earned an injury-time free kick when Bart Schenkeveld brought down Christian Theoharous on the left wing, and Bouzanis strayed a mile from home while attempting to claim James Troisi’s free kick.
Bouzanis clipped the Victory marquee’s heel to bring him to the spot.
The result ends his side’s 237-day wait for a win on home soil and sent the majority Victory crowd wild among the 22,515 in attendance.
On balance, Victory were the better side against an undermanned City.
It became desperately apparent that City, without striker Ross McCormack, were playing out of position and plenty confused as a result.
Bruce Kamau and Stefan Mauk took spells leading the line but neither looked comfortable, with in-form Luke Brattan often dragged out of his midfield tyro role as a result.
But Victory made heavy weather of converting their dominance into a goal.
An early James Troisi shot through a crowd of bodies was smothered by Bouzanis, who should have been beaten on 29 minutes.
Leroy George arrived perfectly to meet Kosta Barbarouses’ cut back but the Dutch winger thundered his shot against the crossbar.
Victory’s prolificacy almost cost them in injury time, when Iacopo La Rocca beat Lawrence Thomas to a corner but headed over.
After the break, Besart Berisha’s acrobatic volley was palmed away – but City began to threaten.
McCormack’s entry into the match on 51 minutes began a suite of City chances.
The best chance of a 15-minute hot spell fell to Kamau, who flicked and fired at goal only to be denied by Thomas’ outstretched foot.
By the end of the match, the stats sheet showed City to have out-shot Victory but it was Muscat’s side who laughed last.
Bouzanis’ gaffe was his second-straight derby blunder.
When last in action against Melbourne Victory, he slurred Berisha and incurred a five-week ban.
This time around, any punishment will be dictated by his coach – but the gloveman will still leave with a bitter taste.