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Corica delighted as Sydney charge to record AFC Champions League win


Doha: Sydney FC head coach Steve Corica paid tribute to his players after they stunned Shanghai SIPG 4-0 in their AFC Champions League match at Al Janoub Stadium on Tuesday.

The A-League champions brushed off the disappointment of early group stage elimination to deliver their biggest ever win in Asia’s premier competition, with Trent Buhagiar bagging a brace to follow earlier goals from Alex Wilkinson and Luke Brattan.

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Frustrated to emerge without any points from their two previous outings in Doha, Corica said the result was overdue, and no less than his players deserved.

“I think that game has been coming,” declared the former Socceroo. “The first two games had been good, we’ve had our opportunities, and I think today we showed exactly what we can do."

Group H - MD5: Shanghai SIPG FC 0-4 Sydney FC

“I’m very pleased for the players. They deserve that game. They played really well, dominated from start to finish and scored some excellent goals. We maybe could have ended up with more.

“We played against a very good team. They’re going through, we’re not, but we’re very proud of what the players have achieved tonight.”

Eager to end a run of 11 games without a win in the competition, Sydney suffered an early blow when young goalkeeper Adam Pavlesic was stretched off within 10 minutes – with his injury later confirmed as a broken collarbone – but their fortunes changed when veteran defender Alex Wilkinson nodded home a corner kick in the 28th minute.

The trickle started to look more like a flood when Luke Brattan slammed home Sydney’s second five minutes later, with the returning midfielder delivering an excellent 45-minute appearance before being withdrawn at the interval.

““It was (always the plan to remove him at half-time). He’s coming back from a bit of a tight hamstring, so we needed to slow him down a little bit,” said Corica.

“We wanted to get him through 45 (minutes) and go from there. He felt it a little bit again at half time, or leading into half-time, and we wanted to give him the opportunity to maybe back up (against Yokohama F. Marinos) in three days’ time."

“We’ll wait and see, but I thought he controlled the game. He was excellent. Fantastic goal, absolutely brilliant. He obviously set up the corner as well, it was a fantastic delivery to that near post area and we’re pleased to have him back.

“He’s big part of our team and the way we want to play and I thought him and young Calem Nieuwenhof played really well in midfield.”

On a night where the eliminated Sydney toasted a big win, Shanghai SIPG suffered a heavy loss just hours after their place in the Round of 16 had been confirmed by Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors’ earlier defeat to Yokohama F. Marinos.

SIPG coach Vitor Pereira acknowledged that the news may have removed some of the intensity from his players, but declared physical tiredness had been more influential than mental factors in their own match.

“In 13 days, this was the fifth game that we played,” said Pereira, who led the club to the Chinese Super League title in 2018.

“The players are not machines. It’s impossible to play, after five games in a row, at the same level we did against Yokohama. Today we paid the bill.

“Sydney; it was the third game for them. They rested six days to prepare for this game, and we rested three days. It was impossible to compete with them in these conditions.”

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