Sports News

Defending champions Sydney eye more A-League silverware

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Defending A-League champions Sydney FC are eyeing more silverware in the Australian top flight while newcomers Western United emerged from quarantine to reignite their playoffs hopes with victory in a Melbourne derby.

Players compete during game action in the A-League match between Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Sydney, Australia, July 17, 2020. AAP Image/Dean Lewins via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. AUSTRALIA OUT. NEW ZEALAND OUT

Saturday’s 1-1 draw between Wellington Phoenix and Adelaide United secured Sydney a record fourth Premier’s Plate for sealing top spot with four rounds left before the playoffs.

Steve Corica-coached Sydney bring top seeding to the playoffs for the third time in the last four campaigns and with a home semi-final secured, are well placed for a record fifth A-League title.

“We want to go on and win the Grand Final and become back-to-back champions, a feat achieved by only one other club,” Corica said over the weekend.

The Grand Final is the A-League’s championship decider.

Brisbane Roar won back-to-back in 2010/11 and 2011/12 and are the only team to successfully defend the championship.

“We’ve recruited well this season, we’ve been playing some very good football , exciting football, scoring goals and we’ve got the best defence in the league as well, which is a credit to the boys for working so hard,” Corica said.

Midfielder Max Burgess hammered in a fierce second half volley to help A-League debutants Western United claim a 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory at Western Sydney Stadium as the teams came out of two weeks’ quarantine to resume their seasons.

Seventh-placed Western United are one spot out of the playoffs places but only a point behind sixth-placed Adelaide, who have played two more games.

Adelaide goalkeeper Paul Izzo frustrated Wellington’s hopes of forging ahead of Melbourne City in the race to finish second and secure direct entry to the semi-finals when he saved Ulises Davila’s meek spot kick late in the draw.

The result lifted Phoenix into second on goal difference ahead of City, with each team on 40 points with three games to play.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford