A retaken penalty from Alessandro Del Piero nine minutes into the second half gave the Sky Blues the spoils before a throbbing crowd of 19,126.
Sydney's first ever A-League derby left a lot to be desired from the technical aspect but it produced a titanic contest with no quarter asked or given.
Both teams had nothing left at the end of a gruelling match that was played in the best of spirits.
It took only a few challenges for the big crowd to realise that this was not going to be a match for the faint-hearted.
Both sets of players were up for the match, tackling ferociously and giving nothing away in a bid to establish an early supremacy.
Ten minutes in Del Piero hit a dipping free kick from some 30 metres that just missed the bar and seconds later the Italian star forced Ante Covic into a save on the deck.
The Wanderers, not to be outdone, replied with a firm rising shot from defender Adam d'Apuzzo that was tipped over the bar by Ivan Necevski.
Former Sydney striker Mark Bridge then tried his luck with a shot across goal that whizzed past the wrong side of the far post.
Moments later, as the Wanderers enjoyed a degree of sustained possession, defender Fabio came to Sydney's rescue with a timely tackle on Labinot Haliti who had broken clear on the right and looked likely to score.
However as the half progressed, play became scrappy and disjointed.
Eight minutes into the second half the game came back into life when Del Piero won a penalty after Aaron Mooy's mistimed tackle.
The drama did not end there.
Del Piero took the kick and scored to Covic's left but the penalty had to be retaken due to encroachment.
Del Piero's second shot to Covic's right was saved but the Italian pounced on the rebound and hit the back of the net with a left-foot shot.
Bridge replied with a low shot that was easily dealt with by Necevski.
Wanderers striker Dino Kresinger had a rather quiet match but he went close with a header 20 minutes from time.
The Wanderers, with their fans urging them on, kept trying and Bridge went even closer when he headed over the bar when well placed.
Western Sydney's Japanese star Shinji Ono looked lively but received some close attention early on from midfielder Paul Reid, who started in place of dropped Sydney captain Terry McFlynn. Brett Emerton was handed the armband.
The win was Sydney's first of the campaign while the Wanderers remain goalless after three matches with just one point to their name.