Who can stop the Sydney FC juggernaut now?

Filip Holosko of Sydney FC celebrates after scoring his side's first goal against Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium.
Filip Holosko of Sydney FC celebrates after scoring his side's first goal against Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium. JOE CASTRO

BACK in October, with the season barely under way, a senior figure at Sydney FC spoke of Bernie Ibini's recovery, and the time it would take for him to begin to even approach the heights achieved before his serious injury.

"Wait until late January," he said. And how.

To call Ibini a beast is entirely complimentary, because of the power he has added to his natural speed.

The gangly youth who wasn't entirely certain of his best position at the Mariners is now a machine who can run through players as much as around them, as Melbourne Victory found on Thursday night.

Ibini's goal somehow felt inevitable.

Time and again Sydney has won games by easing ahead in the second half, brutally powerful like the best long-distance runners.

Even as it was under the cosh at times in the first half, there was the constant reminder that the opening 45 minutes often matters little to the result of Sydney's games.

And so it moves 11 points clear, brushing its nearest challengers aside with efficiency. Some have called it almost boring, its imperious progress towards the minor premiership apparently uncheckable by anyone.

With 10 games left, the fascination now is whether it really can go unbeaten through the season.

And what will happen in the finals.

To defeat Sydney, a team will have to find the precious few weaknesses in its game. Victory did on Thursday night, but all too fleetingly.

Sydney's biggest moment of weakness is also its biggest threat, the point when they really unfurl their attacking threat.

Victory's goal came when the Sky Blues went for the jugular but lost the ball quickly. In transition, Victory had them out of shape, and scored the opening goal.

If anyone was going to drive home that advantage it would be Victory, at home and driven by the need to shrink the gap between them and the league leaders.

But through sheer cussedness at times Sydney prevented that deficit from ballooning, due in no small part to Jordy Buijs.

If occasionally his lack of match fitness was all too apparent, it's a wonder that those moments were occasional from a player making his first appearance since October.

The Dutch signing looked very at home in Sydney's back four.

But more than anything, yet again it was the individual quality in Sydney's team that cut Victory to its knees.

Milos Ninkovic covered every blade of grass in his team's cause, but found a wonderful cross for Filip Holosko to equalise. Danny Vukovic found a save from Leigh Broxham that could be title winning.

Then Ibini latched on to Alex Brosque's header, and Victory defenders stumbled in his wake. By the end, the entire Victory team - and the rest of the league - knew the feeling.


Topics:  a league melbourne victory sydney fc

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