Revitalised Sydney knock league leaders off
A resurgent Sydney FC have have stunned A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners 1-0 with Brett Emerton sealing the victory with a late winner on Thursday.
Emerton's 89th minute winner secured the three points to lift the Sky Blues off the bottom of the ladder into ninth place.
The Sky Blues looked miles apart from the side who got thumped 7-2 by the Mariners in their last encounter in what was an end-to-end clash at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
Sydney showed a sense of urgency from the get go with Yairo Yau creating a chance for stand-in skipper Emerton a minute in.
But the Mariners attack soon began to create headaches for Sydney, easily getting past the Sky Blues defence with both the league's leading goal scorer Daniel McBreen and Joshua Rose forcing saves from gloveman Vedran Janjetovic.
Alessandro Del Piero showed his impressive skills to win the ball and go on a defence-busting run with Socceroo tyro 'keeper Matt Ryan saving his ensuing shot.
The Juventus legend looked like putting the hosts in front just before the break, causing a goal mouth scramble with a curling shot with Trent Sainsbury doing well to clear the ball off the line.
The Sky Blues continued peppering the Mariners goal with shots in the second half with both Adam Griffiths and Blake Powell getting the 16,887-strong crowd on their feet with dangerous strikes.
The match was briefly interrupted in the 63rd minute when a streaker took to the field.
McBreen had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock in the 74th minute when he found himself one-on-one with the the 'keeper but Janjetovic saved the strike from point-blank range.
Tomas Rogic could have stolen a win in the dying minutes when late substitute Mitchell Duke supplied him with a perfect cross into the box but the Mariners playmaker sent his shot over the crossbar.
Sydney's Rhyan Grant replied with a shot of his own a moment later but was denied by the woodwork.
Sydney's Ali Abbas then played a perfect ball to Emerton with the Socceroo heading home the winner.
Frustration boiled over for the Mariners side with John Hutchinson being sent off in extra time after earning his second yellow card.
An on-field scuffle broke out between several players and things got worse for the Mariners with Rogic getting a straight red card for a tackle on Grant to end the match with nine players.