United rally to draw with Sydney FC

February 9, 2024 BY

Up and down: Ben Garuccio scored a goal as Western United fought back to draw 2-2 with Sydney FC in Hobart, but he was also subbed off with an injury. Photo: LINDA HIGGINS/ AAP IMAGE

SYDNEY FC coach Ufuk Talay has questioned his side’s character after they coughed up a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw with last-placed Western United in Hobart last weekend.

The Victorian outfit trailed 2-0 after the clinical Sky Blues made the most of limited first-half opportunities, but rallied and found goals through Noah Botic and Ben Garruccio to force their way to a point.

It was a blown opportunity from Sydney, who could have jumped inside the top six with a victory and appeared on course for a comfortable result with their two-goal advantage.

Talay acknowledged it wasn’t a good showing from his side and outlined the defensive lapses that let United back into the game.

“It wasn’t our greatest performance,” Talay said.

“We went 2-0 up, conceded another soft goal we could have dealt with defensively… and the second goal from the throw-in because our setup wasn’t ready.

“Overall the performance wasn’t great… Western had a bit more passion and desire to get the outcome that they wanted.”

The Sky Blues looked lifeless at times in the first half before finding their two quick goals, both via VAR intervention.

They went 1-0 up thanks to a Fabio penalty on 36 minutes, referee Lachlan Keevers spotting a handball on video review when Max Burgess’ cross struck the outstretched hand of Western defender Kane Vidmar.

Jake Girdwood-Reich secured Sydney’s second goal on 43 minutes, a VAR review finding he was onside when he drifted from a Fabio flicked-on header to drive the ball home.

But Western quickly fought back and had a goal before the half when Botic slammed the ball in from close range after the Sky Blues’ defence capitulated.

Garuccio made it 2-2 on 53 minutes, after Botic got on the end of a clever through ball and pulled the ball back for him to smash in.

Western United would be wondering how they didn’t leave Tasmania with all three points after two golden chances for striker Nikita Rukavytsya late in second-half stoppage time.

First Rukavytsya got on the end of a deep Zach Lisolajski cross but dragged a volley from close range well wide.

And the veteran’s embarrassment only grew less than a minute later, firing a shot from point-blank range straight at Sydney keeper Andrew Redmayne.

A shocking day on the injury front for United saw important talents Josh Risdon and Garruccio each substituted out of the contest in the second half.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Garrucio’s replacement Connor O’Toole lasted just 21 minutes before succumbing to his own injury.

“It’s unfortunate those players got injured during the game because it affects the way you want to play,” United coach John Aloisi told Paramount.

“But in the end I thought they did really well and deserved more from the game… we showed a lot of effort, we had the clearer of the chances and they scored two dubious goals.”