Import breaks duck as Sydney roll Adelaide
Milos Ninkovic joked the other day that Reza Ghoochannejhad would soon score his first A-League goal because he'd found an apartment to live in and finally felt at home in Australia.
There might have been something in that, because Sydney FC's high-profile signing was suddenly looking like a part of the furniture against Adelaide on Friday night, when he netted the opener and generally shone in a 2-0 win celebrated so hard by The Cove the fence collapsed.
Three prior matches Ghoochannejhad had played for the Sky Blues, over a period during which they scored just once from open play.
In his fourth at Leichhardt Oval they did so twice - youngster Cameron Devlin joining the party with his first A-League goal off the bench in stoppage-time - and the former Iranian international was very much integral to the breakthrough, a collective first-half exhibition of thrifty one-touch football that demonstrated his combination with Adam Le Fondre is indeed bearing fruit.
That much was evident in the build-up to his 15th-minute goal, of which Ghoochannejhad himself was the fulcrum, teeing up the ever-industrious Rhyan Grant out wide and cutting back inside.
Instead of scooping up the return pass he dummied and let the ball slip past him to Le Fondre continuing on his run just in time to receive and slot his earnings through Paul Izzo's legs.
And while the performance of Steve Corica's side dropped noticeably in the second half, the result, at least temporarily, lifts them within five points of leaders Perth Glory and generates valuable momentum ahead of Wednesday's opening Asian Champions League group fixture against Ulsan Hyundai.
Alex Brosque should be fit for that game, having served his one-match suspension here.
Though even without the skipper, not to mention the injured Danny De Silva and Siem de Jong, the hosts were up and about early.
"First half was excellent, probably best we've played all season," Corica said.
"Second half turned a little bit but sometimes you have to defend, and we defended really well and kept another clean sheet.
"It takes a little bit of time but the combination between Reza and Adam is really working."
Ninkovic too was in superb touch and put on something of a clinic of intelligent positioning and distribution, and he might have scored himself had Izzo not leapt to tip over his first-half shot supplied by a glorious lofted ball from Ghoochannejhad.
Throughout the 90 minutes the Serbian maestro betrayed no signs of running out of juice, his workrate just as high even after he went down with a worrying-looking knee injury for several minutes before dusting himself off and carrying on.
At one point Sydney threatened to disappear into the distance, but they were always in sight of a rallying Reds outfit that worked themselves into the game and enjoyed periods of promising possession despite appearing to waste Craig Goodwin's strengths at wing-back.
It was fitting that two of Adelaide's biggest chances came courtesy of George Blackwood, the former Sky Blues striker who left because he couldn't game time.
The 21-year-old struck on the eve of halftime for a certain equaliser but for Alex Wilkinson's goal-line intervention, and later grazed the outside netting from distance.
Ryan Strain also shot just wide from an acute angle, and an end-to-end second stanza kept the match well in the balance.
But Sydney shut up shop - Corica even substituted Le Fondre for defender Aaron Calver - and held on until Brandon O'Neill threaded a neat ball to Devlin.
The 20-year-old was cool as you like, slotting a low hard finish past Izzo and sprinting to a horde of waiting fans so zealous the barricade caved in under their weight.
SYDNEY FC 2 (Reza Ghoochannejhad 15m, Cameron Devlin 90+4m) ADELAIDE UNITED 0 at Leichhardt Oval. Crowd: 11,217. Referee: Kurt Ams