“…destroyed everything” – Corica fumes over refereeing decisions in Grand Final defeat

Sydney FC coach Steve Corica has made no bones about expressing his frustration with two refereeing decisions in Sunday evening’s A-League final that, in his mind, devestated his side’s quest for a historic three-peat.

After absorbing an initial wave of City pressure bouyed by a sellout Melbourne crowd, Corica’s team took the lead in the 21st minute of the decider when Kosta Barbarouses let loose with a long-range thunderbolt that buried itself past City keeper Tom Glover.

However, some fine interplay between City young guns Marco Tilio and Stefan Colakovski allowed the latter to spring eventual Joe Marston medal winner Nathaniel Atkinson into the Harbourside penalty area to equalise two minutes later.

Just over ten minutes later, Corica watched his side’s hopes of a historic three-peat suffer a mortal blow when Luke Brattan, who had first been booked in the 25th minute, received his second yellow card of the contest for a late, sliding challenge on Tilio and was sent off for the first time in his career.

Then, moments before halftime, Anthony Caceres made contact with Adrian Luna just inside the Sky Blue area and referee Chris Beath had no hesitation in awarding City a penalty — one that was promptly sent home by captain Scott Jamieson.

“It started well. I thought they really put us on the back foot from the start, then we started to gain control of the game” Corica said post-game.

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“We got the first goal — which was an absolute bomb from Kosta — and they scored two minutes later which was another good goal from Atkinson.

“And then obviously the game was shaping up to be a very good game until, in my opinion, the referee made the wrong decision in sending [Brattan] off and the penalty.

“Two decisions that changed the whole game completely and destroyed everything.

“Luna’s foot was outside the area but also I don’t think it was a foul. We had one very similar with Alexander Baumjohann in that same area and he didn’t give it.

“So, again, another mistake probably from the referee tonight. I thought he didn’t probably have his best game. I suppose we all make mistakes and I thought he made a few tonight.

“I think they handed out [Brattan’s first yellow card] too early in that first challenge. It’s a Grand Final – people are going to make challenges.

“Probably destroyed the game by sending him off.”

Up a goal and man, City never appeared properly threatened by Sydney throughout the second half – coach Patrick Kisnorbo’s team frequently stretching out their undermanned foes with high wing-backs and by switching play before adding a third in the 93rd minute through Scott Galloway.

“We thought we might get one or two chances on the counter-attack,” Corica said.

“We went with Patrick Wood up front [Wood came on as an 86th minute substitute for Caceres]; we wanted balls in behind, went with the two strikers and three midfielders which was obviously going to be very tough.

“But we just couldn’t get in behind, we couldn’t use his pace.

“But full credit to our boys to hang in there. They scored in the 90th minute, one was a penalty.

“So, for me, I’m very proud of the boys for digging in deep and doing so well.

“And congratulations to Melbourne City. They’ve been the best team all season and they’ve got the double now. So congratulations to Paddy Kisnorbo and the team.

“I thought they, in the end, were always going to make it very difficult for us when we had ten men.”

Though a few players are likely to remain in Melbourne — enjoying the local weather as Corica jokingly put it — the majority of Sydney’s travelling contingent will fly back home tomorrow and enter two weeks of COVID-enforced lockdown called by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Saturday.

Their Asian Champions League campaign cancelled, the Sky Blue playing group will then commence five weeks off before returning for the 2021-22 pre-season.

Corica, however, will commence planning for that campaign much sooner – and he’s not expecting his ranks to be thinned by retirements.

“Thinking about next season again, we’ve got a lot of players signed already,” he said.

“Maybe get two or three new players coming in, we’ll see what happens.

“ I think they all want to play again. We want to re-sign [Alex Wilkinson], [Milos Ninkovic] is already signed for another year and Bobo as well. So you’ll these players around again.”

Enjoying Joey’s coverage of Australian sport? Your support helps keep it possible.
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Header Image Credit: Fox Sports

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