Western Sydney Wanderers attacker Alexander Baumjohann hammered what could be the final nail in Sydney FC’s Premiership hopes, with his second-half strike ensuring Saturday’s Hyundai A-League Sydney Derby ended 1-1.
The ex-Bundesliga playmaker struck a deflected free-kick early in the second stanza to cancel out Alex Brosque’s seventh minute opener, ensuring a breathless affair at ANZ Stadium finished level.
Baumjohann’s effort hands Perth Glory the chance to clinch the 2018/19 Premiership in Sunday evening’s clash with Newcastle Jets.
The Sky Blues must hope the table-topping West Australians slip up against the Jets before welcoming Glory to Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Thursday.
Last beaten by their cross-city rivals in February 2017, Sydney were on course for another derby triumph when Brosque broke the deadlock on the breakaway in the seventh minute, sweeping a lovely finish past Wanderers goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic after Anthony Caceres capitalised on a midfield turnover.
Sydney were, however, on the back foot for much of the contest following Brosque’s early opener. Mitch Duke flashed two warning signs before drawing a fine double-save from Andrew Redmayne, who was required to smother the forward’s attempts to fire home scraps from a corner.
And having dominated the shot count after conceding, Markus Babbel’s men notched the equaliser their first half industry and overall performance deserved when Baumjohann’s free-kick found passage through the Sydney wall and past Redmayne.
The Wanderers had their tails up: Oriol Riera spurned a wonderful chance to nod the Red and Black in front but could only plant a free header against the foot of the post, and Redmayne produced another excellent stop to deny a fierce drive from Raul Llorente.
Both sides traded blows in a frantic finish to the match – Abraham Majok flew at Giancarlo Gallifuoco’s cross and Janjetovic stunningly parried Adam Le Fondre’s curler over the bar.