Sydney FC snatch dramatic draw against Western Sydney Wanderers in A-League derby

The bragging rights of the city won't head west just yet after Sydney FC came back from two goals down to snare a draw at home to Western Sydney Wanderers. 

The A-League champions were staring down the barrel of a humiliating derby defeat in front of their own fans before fighting back to level the scores 2-2 at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night. 

There remains no question about Sydney FC's winning mentality as they overcame a horrendous start against their rivals to keep thier undefeated home record intact, but there will be plenty of questions asked about their ability to go back-to-back this season.

"The signs of a champion team and a team of great character is to fight back from 2-0 down," Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold said. "Two sloppy goals, two terrible goals that we conceded. Something that I need to address is our start to games."

If Sydney FC's home ground was meant to be a fortress this season then that status hangs by a thread. They remain unbeaten at home in more than a year but have already conceded as many goals in two games as they did in all of last season. Far more concerning for the champions, however, is the impression that teams don't appear the least bit intimidated. 

Western Sydney Wanderers were perhaps unlucky to head back down Parramatta Rd with only a point following their most disciplined and polished performance in a derby in years. They took the game to Sydney FC with incessant pressing and their fluidity in attack left Sydney's impenetrable backline of last season noticeably porous as Spaniards Alvaro Cejudo and Oriol Riera made light work of their markers. 

Sydney FC hadn't found their feet in the contest before they were facing an uphill battle. Wanderers full-back Josh Risdon easily beat Sydney's Milos Ninkovic down the right flank before floating a cross into the middle of the box. Riera pounced to break the deadlock with a superb glancing header just three minutes into the match . 

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold was left fuming with the generous marking offered by defender Jordy Buijs while bemoaning a lack of purpose from his team in possession. The Sky Blues were stagnant, offered no penetration and found no meaningful attempts on goal. After half an hour, they were made to pay further. 

Poor marking was yet again pounced on when Alvaro Cejudo's free kick found Brendan Hamill at the back post, where the Wanderers defender steered a fierce header down low to make it 2-0. 

Just as the prospect of a humiliating defeat began to appear real, the Sky Blues were handed a lifeline seven minutes later. David Carney intelligently drew a foul against Wanderers midfielder Chris Herd inside the box, giving referee Jarred Gillett little choice but to award the hosts a penalty, though not all agreed. 

"I thought it was a very soft call. A lot of things didn't go our way," Wanderers coach Hayden Foxe said.

Staring down Vedran Janjetovic in goals and a hostile visiting crowd behind him, Bobo showed nerves of steel, piercing the tension with a composed penalty into the corner to make it 2-1. He then almost drew the scores level on the stroke of half-time when his shot from the edge of the box was deflected narrowly wide.

The hosts refused to relinquish bragging rights on their own turf after the break, requiring a combination of grit, class and luck. Captain Alex Brosque broke up an attack in his own half to play Ninkovic into space. The Serbian was hacked down by a brutish challenge from Chris Herd but a decision from referee Gillett to allow play-on gave the Sky Blues space to launch a swift counter and that's when fortune went their favour.

Midfielder Josh Brillante bore down on goal and his fierce drive was cushioned by a slight deflection that gave Janjetovic no hope of denying Sydney an equaliser in the 61st minute. Two-all, game on and the pride of the city was back on the line. 

Brillante almost tipped the balance back towards the city's east in sensational fashion in the 70th minute. Spotting Janjetovic off his line, he struck a first-time volley that almost dipped under the crossbar. Sydney then almost stole a win in injury time when substitute Matt Simon missed a point-blank header. Both sides were forced to settle for a point that would have felt like three for Sydney FC.

"I thought the boys deserved three points on that performance," Foxe said. "But, again you come to a tough place against the current champions and to get a point with that performance is a little uneasy for us."

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