Dutch defender in doubt for Glory trip

Sydney FC's impressive 3-1 win over Western Sydney came at a cost, with Jop van der Linden now in doubt for the club's meeting with leaders Perth Glory.

The import defender suffered a hamstring injury in the victory at ANZ Stadium, which was a quality response from the Sky Blues after they had gone down 3-1 at home to Wellington.

Van der Linden fell awkwardly after an attempted tackle in the 15th minute, and the Dutchman may need to be replaced against the unbeaten Glory.

Asked about van der Linden's injury, coach Steve Corica said: "I'm not 100 per-cent sure, I think it was a little bit of a hamstring. I don't know how bad it is yet; I haven't seen him, (but) there's a little bit of a twinge there."

The Sky Blues trailed to a goal from Oriol Riera but came from behind to continue their dominance in meetings with their rivals – it was their fifth derby win in a row.

Corica had needed to go into the match without van der Linden's centre-back partner Alex Wilkinson due to a virus. Wilkinson's replacement, Aaron Calver, lasted 64 minutes before he too exited the match due to cramping.

"He hasn't played for quite a while; it was only normal, to come back and with heavy conditions, to start cramping up," said Corica of Calver.

"He'll be better off for it and he'll be fine next week – Jop, probably not."

Sydney FC, who are gunning for a third consecutive Premier's Plate, face a run of four big games now bookended by trips to Perth.

In between they have festive period home games against Brisbane Roar and Central Coast, who boast just one victory between them so far this season.

Sydney FC are 17/10 to win their next game against Perth Glory, who are 6/4 with the draw 12/5.

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Coach defends derby substitution

Markus Babbel defended his decision to take off Alexander Baumjohann at a crucial time in Western Sydney's 3-1 defeat to Sydney FC.

The coach decided to take off the player who had had a big influence up to that point, when he needed to send on a substitute keeper in the derby at ANZ Stadium.

Vedran Janjetovic had been dismissed for handling the ball outside his area, leaving Babbel needing to take off an outfield player in order for debutant Danijel Nizic to take over between the uprights.

Western Sydney had been ahead at that point, but though it was widely seen by fans as too-defensive move to substitute the attack-minded Baumjohann the home side went on to ship three goals.

Speaking of his decision after the game, Babbel said: "Alex is a fantastic footballer and I feel really really sad for him because he's one of our best players.

"But in this moment, for me it was clear we need legs now and we have to defend more than to attack. And Alex is a fantastic player offensive-wise, but defensive is not his biggest strength, so I have to make that decision."

As far as the Wanderers coach is concerned, what cost his team as they slumped to a fifth-straight loss to their derby rivals was the team's frail mentality.

Babbel said it would have been easier for him to accept if the goals they conceded to the Sky Blues had been well struck from outfield play.

The fact they conceded twice after the break from set-pieces didn't sit well with him as a former defender, he admitted.

"We are not hungry in this moment; we don't see the danger in this moment," he added.

"[So] we don't have to be surprised if you lose this game, because this is a good side."

Western Sydney are 11/4 to win their next game against Adelaide, who are 10/11 with the draw 11/4.

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Sky Blues beat 10-man Wanderers

Sydney FC came from behind to win their derby clash with Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1 at ANZ Stadium.

Steve Corica's team handed their rivals a third defeat in the space of four games, with Wanderers' chances taking a major hit when keeper Vedran Janjetovic was sent off.

Playing against his former team, Janjetovic was dismissed for handling the ball outside the penalty area after he was beaten to a long ball by Adam le Fondre.

Oriol Riera had put Western Sydney ahead, with Alex Brosque levelling in first half stoppage time.

The Sky Blues went ahead before hour mark courtesy of Siem De Jong, with Jacob Tratt's bullet header adding gloss to the scoreline late on.

Western Sydney deserved their opener, which came when Spanish striker Riera turned in Alexander Baumjohann's free-kick from close range midway through the first half.

Janjetovic was then shown a straight red card and their coach Markus Babbel responded by withdrawing Baumjohann in order to be able to bring on substitute keeper Danijel Nizic.

Brosque drew the Sky Blues level in the first half of added time at the end of the first half when he reacted quickest to net from a rebound after Josh Brillante's shot came back off the post.

The visitors had already threatened twice since finding themselves with an extra men, de Jong forcing a tip-over from Nizic and le Fondre curling a shot just past the upright.

Wanderers, who have now beaten their derby rivals just once in 16 meetings, had less threat once Baumjohann went off.

They fell behind when De Jong buried the scraps from a corner at the back post, and Sydney FC secured a fifth-straight win in the derby when Tratt headed home from the far post nine minutes from time.

Sydney FC are 17/10 to win their next game against Perth Glory, who are 6/4 with the draw 12/5.

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Phoenix seeking rare double

Hard work is the recipe Wellington Phoenix believe can help them build on their impressive away win against Sydney FC.

The Phoenix beat the Sky Blues, who have won the last two Premier's Plates, 3-1 at Jubilee Oval at the weekend and ended a five-game winless run.

They are now level on points with sixth-placed Newcastle Jets, and on paper look to have a great chance of climbing the ladder over the next fortnight.

Their next two games are at home to the bottom two teams, Central Coast and then Brisbane Roar.

If they can beat the Mariners it will be the first time they've achieved back-to-back wins in the same season since April 2017.

But defender Steven Taylor, who scored the third of their goals against the Sky Blues, says coach Mark Rudan's message has been that they can't allow their concentration to slip after that win against Steve Corica's side.

"The manager has made it very clear in the meeting this morning, we have to look to get some back-to-back wins under our belt and obviously build on it," said Taylor.

Rudan has been putting the players through double training sessions this week to ensure they are in the best condition for the Mariners game.

Taylor said: "The manager has been strict and has worked us hard. He knows we've got to maintain the levels we're showing at the moment and the boys are doing it.

"We believe in ourselves and work hard together. You can see the team spirit on and off the pitch, the lads are doing the extras, they're doing the grafting and that's showing."

Keeper Filip Kurton should be available again, after missing the Sydney FC game due to concussion.

Wellington are 11/4 to finish in the top six.

The Phoenix are 3/4 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 7/2 with the draw 11/4.

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High-press plan worked for Phoenix

Wellington Phoenix's 3-1 win away to defending premiers Sydney FC may have surprised the A-League, but to coach Mark Rudan it was just a case of successful planning.

The Phoenix hadn't won since beating Newcastle at home in the opening round, and pundits didn't give them much of a chance of turning over Steve Corica's side at Jubilee Oval.

But the game was virtually over by half time as the visitors took a three-goal lead, with record scorer Roy Krishna scoring twice and Steven Taylor also on target.

Though the Sky Blues managed to get a goal back in the second half, they didn't look like getting anything else out of the game.

And Rudan felt, although it was their best performance in recent memory, it had been something of a carry-over from their outing when they held leaders Perth Glory to a 1-1 draw the previous week.

Wellington were able to press high up the pitch against Corica's side, just as they were against Glory when they were only denied the three points by a late equaliser after they'd had a man sent off.

Speaking of the win over Sydney FC, the coach said: "A lot of planning and preparation [went] into this game; we wanted to press them high, you saw both of Roy's goals were exactly the same. We worked on the training pitch to open them up the same way, that's where I'm most pleased."

He added: "People were talking about what we were doing at the start of the season, but there was always a plan as far as I was concerned."

The Phoenix are monitoring the fitness of Krishna, who was substituted midway through the second half with a hamstring injury.

Left wing-back Liberato Cacace suffered a hip injury later in the half, but Rudan hopes the pair will both be fit enough to line up against winless Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.

Wellington are 66/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Phoenix are 3/4 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 7/2 with the draw 11/4.

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Babbel reinforces need to fight

Fight and quality were on display for Western Sydney as they got back to winning ways against Central Coast, according to coach Markus Babbel.

Wanderers went into the clash with the bottom side having lost their last two games without scoring, but a superb strike just before the break from Keanu Baccus gave them a massive boost.

Jaushua Sotirio's strike in the second half wrapped up the points at Spotless Stadium, leaving Babbel well pleased with the performance and the result.

Midfielder Baccus notched his first goal for the club with a low drive past keeper Ben Kennedy from outside the penalty area.

Babbel said he'd made his players aware before the game that he was looking for a reaction after the previous week's 4-0 defeat to Melbourne Victory.

"I said this to the players during the week, 'you can fall down, this can happen but stand up – stand up and fight for your dreams, for the success,' said the coach.

"This for me today was outstanding…everyone gave everything and that's it, the good luck came on your side because you deserve it and to be fair it was a good performance."

Speaking of Baccus, who has been with the club for four years and was previously captain of the youth team, Babbel said he was improving a lot.

"(He's) one of the best players on the pitch," he added. "If he's doing the right things and listens to us he shows a top performance but it's not just today, he's shown good performances before."

Wanderers will go into next week's derby against Sydney FC boosted not just by their win over the Mariners but also following the Sky Blues' shock 3-1 home defeat to Wellington.

Western Sydney are 12/1 to win the Grand Final.

Wanderers are 11/4 to win their next game against Sydney FC, who are 19/20 with the draw 13/5.

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Phoenix cause big upset

Former Sydney FC player Mark Rudan got one over his old team as Wellington Phoenix caused a big upset by winning 3-1 at Jubilee Stadium.

The Phoenix, without a win under new coach Rudan since the opening round, were three goals up by half-time.

The home side missed a golden chance to go in front after 14 minutes, when Adam le Fondre blasted over the bar from close range from Paulo Retre's cross.

And seven minutes later they conceded the opener, with Dutch centre-half Jop van der Linden being partly responsible for all three goals.

Van der Linden and left-back Michael Zullo were caught out by Sarpreet Singh's through ball that put Roy Krishna clear on goal.

Krishna, who last week against leaders Perth had become Wellington's all-time record goalscorer, kept his cool to make it 1-0.

The Fiji international was on the mark again nine minutes later, Mandi picking him out with a pass as he ran between van der Linden and Zullo to slide the ball home.

The Sky Blues were finding it difficult to contain the visitors' simple, no-frills football and they fell further behind seven minutes before the interval.

Liberato Cacace sent in an early cross into the box and defender Steven Taylor jumped above van der Linden to give Rudan's side a commanding advantage.

The Phoenix had 10 shots in the first half to Sydney FC's four, and Sky Blues coach Steve Corica made a switch at the break as he brought on Siem de Jong to try to increase the team's attacking threat.

Wellington lost Krishna just before the hour mark to a hamstring injury, and the home side managed a consolation goal a minute from time.

Zullo's deflected effort found the back of the net after Wellington defender Louis Fenton appeared to be fouled in the lead up to Le Fondre missing almost an open goal.

Wellington are 66/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Phoenix are 3/4 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 7/2 with the draw 11/4.

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De Silva in frame for Sky Blues start

Daniel De Silva could get his first start for Sydney FC when they host struggling Wellington Phoenix on Saturday.

The attacking midfielder has been struggling with a hamstring injury since the start of the season, making just two substitute appearances in the league for the Sky Blues.

He was ineligible to play last week against Central Coast, who are his parent club, but got through 60 minutes for the club's youth team against Western Sydney to continue his comeback from injury.

The 21-year-old is in the frame to start against a Phoenix side who are next to bottom in the table and haven't won since the opening round.

"It was good to play with the youth to get some minutes, an opportunity to get some match fitness," said De Silva. "It's always good to be in contention and whatever the coach decides you obviously respect that as a player.

"When the opportunity comes you have to take it with both hands, I'm looking forward to getting back out there this weekend and I'm looking forward to it and the rest of the season as well."

Coach Steve Corica is likely to find a spot on the bench for Dutch marquee Siem de Jong, who has been out for a month with a hamstring injury.

Speaking of his potential return at Jubilee Oval, the 29-year-old said of his hamstring: "It's going well and I'm feeling good. I've been training during the week with the team and testing it out."

Wellington will have keeper Filip Kurto unavailable as he recovers from a concussion, and have signed former Western Sydney stopper Ante Covic as short-term cover.

Sydney FC are 3/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Sky Blues are 4/11 to win their next game against Wellington Phoenix, who are 7/1 with the draw 17/4.

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Corica seeking Sky Blues response

Sydney FC boss Steve Corcia believes a trip to bottom side Central Coast will give his team a good chance of responding after their first defeat of the season.

The Sky Blues travel to face the Mariners – the only team without a win after the opening five rounds of the campaign – on the back of their 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory.

Corica is expecting an immediate reply from his players, having seen them bounce back last month when they beat Melbourne City immediately after losing their FFA Cup final against Adelaide United.

"We've had a good start to the season and that's what we want to do, we want to win games," said Corica, who replaced Graham Arnold in the job after the club retained the Premier's Plate in 2017-18.

"It's another challenge for us after losing last week and how we respond to that, how the boys respond and how they come back from a loss.

"We've done it in the cup, we lost in the cup and we responded fantastically well in the game against City so I expect the same performance as that; the mood is great, the boys know they need to get on with it."

Corica has to do without Daniel De Silva for the Gosford clash as the on-loan youngster can't play against his parent club.

Mariners coach Mike Mulvey has to contend with the absence of defender Kalifa Cisse, who was sent off in injury time in the team's defeat to league leaders Perth Glory last weekend.

The Sky Blues have seen off-season recruit Adam le Fondre make an immediate impact, with eight goals in eight games.

Corica said of the English striker: "First and foremost is the hard work he puts in upfront, he works very hard defensively and that's great for us, he leads by example up front and obviously he's scoring goals as well which is great for us."

The Sky Blues are 4/7 to beat Central Coast, who are 5/1 with the draw 3/1.

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Honda spot-on for Victory

A Keisuke Honda penalty gave Melbourne Victory a 2-1 victory in their Big Blue clash with Sydney FC at Jubilee Stadium.

The Japanese star sent keeper Andrew Redmayne the wrong way from the spot with 19 minutes left to extend Kevin Muscat's side's winning run to three games.

The defending champions took the lead through former Sweden international Ola Toivonen, with Adam le Fondre levelling for the Sky Blues, who fell to five points off leaders Perth Glory.

Toivonen notched his first goal for Victory midway through the first half, via a deflected strike after being set up by James Troisi's pass.

Victory, who leapfrogged their rivals to move into second spot in the table, had already threatened through Kosta Barbarouses who saw his strike from distance pushed away by Redmayne.

Sydney FC equalised 10 minutes before the break when they were given a penalty after Terry Antonis and Paulo Retre came together in the area.

Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas saved Le Fondre's spot-kick, but the forward was able to tap in the rebound.

The home side enjoyed more of the possession at the start of the second half, and Rhyan Grant's header was well stopped by Thomas.

The deciding moment came when Jop van der Linden brought down Honda in the area after the forward was played in by substitute Leigh Broxham.

Honda's third goal of the season proved enough to bag the three points, with the visitors closing out the game with relative comfort to give themselves a boost ahead of consecutive home games against Western Sydney and Adelaide United.

Victory are 5/6 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 3/1, with the draw 11/4.

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