Buhagiar brace helps Sydney FC close in on Premiers Plate


Substitute Trent Buhagiar has almost certainly guaranteed Sydney FC a record fourth A-League Premiers Plate with a late double in the Sky Blues' 3-1 home win over Wellington Phoenix .

The win at Netstrata Jubilee Oval on Friday in front of 1796 spectators in the first A-League game for almost four months, lifted Sydney 11 points clear of second-placed Melbourne City, who can't catch them

They are 15 points ahead of third-placed Wellington, who would need to win all of their five remaining games and Sydney to lose all five, with the Sky Blues holding a massive goal difference advantage.

Pacy Buhagiar broke clear of the Phoenix defence in the 88th and 90th minutes to break the visitors' hearts, after they had taken the lead.

The two earlier goals came from the penalty spot, but Wellington also had a potential go-ahead score rubbed out by a line-ball offside call.

Rene Piscopo scored from a 66th-minute penalty awarded after Ryan McGowan fouled Liberato Cacace.

Adam Le Fondre converted a 76th-minute penalty to equalise after the ball bounced up and hit Phoenix substitute Ulises Davila on the arm.

Mexican Davila thought he'd put Phoenix ahead in the 84th minute, but his shot deflected off Gary Hooper, who was ruled to have been in an offside position.

Englishman Le Fondre's 18th goal of the season put him level with Melbourne City marksman Jamie Maclaren in the race for the Golden Boot.

Both teams played some neat football in difficult conditions on a greasy pitch, with rain falling through the game

Each team had a handball appeal turned down, with Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay coming onto the pitch at halftime to talk to referee Chris Beath, presumably seeking clarification.


The FFA have opted not to use VAR for the remaining A-League home and away games.

Buhagiar, who didn't play in the A-League last season after undergoing a knee reconstruction, charged clear of the defence to score his first and put Sydney ahead.

He sprinted away and rounded Stefan Marinovic and precisely beat a defender on the line to score his second.

Le Fondre went close on a couple of occasions before Wellington took the lead.

Sydney midfielder Luke Brattan was responsible for most of the shooting action in the first half

He forced two saves out of Phoenix goalkeeper Marinovic and smashed a long-distance free-kick wide, while Phoenix defender Luke De Vere almost turned a Le Fondre cross into his own goal.

Phoenix produced some good leadup play in the first half, but created few chances, with Piscopo firing over with one attempt.

Source AAP