They dealt in summary fashion with Victory in the latest ”Big Blue” at AAMI Park on Friday night, winning 3-0 to stretch their lead at the top of the A-league table to 11 points.
A first half goal from Adam Le Fondre and second-half strikes former Victory star Kosta Barbarouses and Alexander Baumjohan ensured the points.
But the real lesson here was twofold: how far Sydney have marched away from the rest of the competition, and how much of a rebuild Victory, under new coach Carlos Salvachua, needs if it is to become a credible challenger.
Victory began brightly enough but it was the visitors who went close in the 12th minute when Alex Wilkinson got on the end of Baumjohan’s free kick only to direct his header wide.
Sydney soon began to find their rhythm as the minutes ticked on. Their confident, clever passing, good movement and ability to find space, put them in the driving seat against a Victory side which was struggling to find ways to pass through the Sky Blues’ defensive block, its holding midfielers Migjen Basha and Anthony Lesiotis rarely getting forward in support.
Sydney’s Socceroo defender Rhyan Grant linked up with Luke Brattan and Barbarouses to set up Baumjohan, whose shot was deflected over midway through the opening half, but the visitors were in front soon after.
Baumjohan picked up the ball in the Victory penalty area, went round Adama Traore far too easily and then teed-up a close range finish for Le Fondre in the 27th minute.
It was the kind of incisive touch in the area that Victory had been lacking.
Baumjohan nearly made it two when he pounced on Barbarouses back flick only to be denied by Lawrence Thomas’ brave dive at his feet.
The Victory goalkeeper then had to save well from Luke Brattan’s long range free kick, and he was by far the busier of the two keepers late in the half, producing another fine save to tip over Milos Ninkovic’s shot.
At the other end Elvis Kamsoba linked well with Traore to set up Robbie Kruse, but the Victory striker only shot tamely at Andrew Redmayne.
Ola Toivonen had a great chance to put Victory back in the game shortly after the restart when Robbie Kruse set him up directly in front of goal but the Swedish international powered his header over the bar.
Kruse forced Redmayne into a diving save and then Kamsoba blazed over as the game began to stretch as Victory pushed on in search of the leveller.
But that also left them vulnerable to the counter attack, and in the 53rd minute they were brutally exposed when Baumjohan linked up cleverly with Le Fondre whose low centre was met by a tangle of bodies, Barbarouses getting the final touch to prod the ball past Thomas.
And that was that. Sydney did what they had to do, snuffing out Victory attacks and adding a third from Baumjohan with five minutes remaining for good measure. The German midfielder blotted his copybook when he was sent off, along with Leigh Broxham, after the two clashed with seconds remaining. It was the only reverse Sydney suffered all evening.
Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing