Sydney FC substitute Paulo Retre was controversially sent off as Brisbane Roar secured their first win of the A-League season with a 3-1 victory over the Sky Blues at Moreton Daily Stadium on Sunday.
While Retre’s 81st-minute dismissal had no effect on the result, it was another refereeing drama in a five-week-old season that has been marred by some questionable officiating.
There was no doubting Retre’s cynical foul on Brisbane substitute Riku Danzaki, but with the offence taking place in the Roar’s half, and a metre from the sideline, it seemed impossible for referee Jonathan Barreiro to rule that Danzaki had been denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
However, that’s what Barreiro ruled, and with VAR not deeming the decision to be a clear and obvious error, Retre was sent packing to the dressing room.
Despite the doubt over the decision, Sydney coach Steve Corica had little sympathy for Retre.
“Paulo made a bad decision,” Corica said.
“The ball stayed in, I thought it was going out. He probably was the last man.”
The red card completed a forgettable afternoon for the Sky Blues, who never fully recovered after conceding two goals in the opening 12 minutes.
“We were sloppy from the start. We gave away three or four set pieces in the first couple of minutes and it’s difficult to come back from 2-0 (behind),” Corica said..
Already without injured striker Adam Le Fondre, Sydney was also forced to start the match with key off-season recruit Joe Lolley, who battled gastro during the week.
While Lolley was able to enter the contest at the start of the second half, the former Nottingham Forest winger failed to inspire Sydney to an unlikely win despite his best efforts.
The Sky Blues have now lost two of their five matches this season, while the Roar – with goals from Charlie Austin, Carlo Armiento and substitute Josh Brindell-South – have kickstarted their campaign after three draws in their first four games.
Roar coach Warren Moon said his side was rewarded for its early intent.
“We deserved that today from start to finish,” Moon said.
“They had their moments for sure but we were the better side.
“When we get it right, we’re a good team and we’re a match for anyone.”
The Roar stunned a shell-shocked Sydney to lead 2-0 early through goals from Austin and Armiento.
Former English Premier League striker Austin netted his second A-League goal in the sixth minute, tapping home from close range after being fed by fellow forward Joe Knowles, who was first to react to a Jay O’Shea free-kick – that Corica felt should not have been awarded – that hit the post.
“It was a clear dive – the referee got that one wrong,” Corica said.
Austin was also involved in Brisbane’s second goal six minutes after he earnt the Roar a penalty after being fouled by Sky Blues debutant Adrian Vlastelica.
The ex-Southampton and Queens Park Rangers attacker stepped up to take the spot kick, but his effort was foiled by the Socceroos’ penalty-saving specialist Andrew Redmayne.
Redmayne’s parry fell for Knowles, whose shot was again saved by the Sydney gloveman.
However, Redmayne was finally beaten at the Roar’s third attempt, with Armiento pouncing on the loose ball from the keeper’s second save to double the hosts’ lead.
Stung into action, the Sydneysiders’ stemmed the Roar’s flow and came close to equalising in the 26th minute with a Rhyan Grant header that was well saved by Brisbane goalkeeper Macklin Freke.
However, Freke should have done better 13 minutes later when the Sky Blues cut the Roar’s lead in half with a goal from playmaker Anthony Caceres.
The Roar custodian failed to properly deal with a Robert Mak cross, only managing to push it into the path of the unmarked cross, whose shot crossed the line despite Brisbane captain Tom Aldred’s attempt to clear it to safety.
With Sydney pressing for an equaliser, the Roar responded with an early contender for goal of the season through the unlikely source of Brindell-South.
Afforded space outside Sydney’s penalty area, Brindell-South let fly with a stinging strike that flew past Redmayne on its way to the top corner of the net.
“I know I can hit them sweet, and when I hit them, they tend to stay hit,” Brindell-South told Network 10.