Domestic Leagues

Corica: Experience the defining factor for Sydney's history makers

Parramatta: Head coach Steve Corica credited his players’ experience as the defining factor in Sydney FC securing back-to-back A-League Championships with victory over Melbourne City in the A-League Grand Final on Sunday.

An extra-time goal from Rhyan Grant was the difference between the sides as Sydney became the first team in Australian history to win five Grand Finals, adding this year’s title to those secured in 2006, 2010, 2017 and 2019.

Sydney also became the first team since Brisbane Roar in 2012 to complete successive Grand Final triumphs and the former midfielder was delighted his players had achieved the target set for them ahead of the season.

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“It’s not easy to go back-to-back, we’ve said that from the start,” said Corica. “Only one team’s ever done it before in the history of the A-League so it really means a lot to this team.

“We set our sights at the start of the year to win the Premiership and to do the Double with the Championship and full credit to these boys and to all the staff. They were sensational throughout the year.

“We went through that little bad patch towards the end (of the regular season) but these boys are experienced, they know when to turn the switch on and to focus and they did it again tonight. The semi-final and the final were excellent.”

Corica praised Grant’s impact on the game, calling him “the best right-back in the country” after a performance that saw the 29-year-old Australia international score the winning goal 10 minutes into extra-time.

Neither side had been able to find a way past the opposing defence during regulation time, with Melbourne goalkeeper Tom Glover in particular in inspired form, but there was nothing he could do about Grant’s improvised effort as the defender chested home in the 100th minute.

“He’s a great guy,” said Corica of the defender, who also scored in the 2017 Grand Final win over Melbourne Victory. “He’s energetic, he leads by example, by doing all the running and the pressing and being aggressive and that’s a big part of the game these days and he leads by example.

“He’s been here for 10 years now and two goals in two Grand Finals is not bad.”

Grant claimed good fortune played a part in his winning goal, which came after he ran on to an inch-perfect lofted ball from midfielder Luke Brattan.

“It was nice, maybe a little bit lucky with it but I thought I’d fool the keeper with the chest rather than the head and it looked like it worked, so happy days,” he said.

“We didn’t start great, we were a bit shaky, we couldn’t get the ball on the deck and play football and credit to City they started really well.

“They came at us in that first half, but I think going into the break we took that as a restart and the second half we were a little bit better, probably still not at our best but that’s a Grand Final.

“It’s a bit end-to-end at times and a bit cagey, I suppose, so we just had to ride that out and then make sure when we got our chances we took them and thankfully we got that goal and then held them out. City were very good and we just got a bit lucky I reckon.”

Photo: Sydney FC

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