Sydney Olympic has claimed a historic National Premier Leagues NSW premiership and championship double with an Alex Sanchez brace helping them to an emphatic 3-1 win against APIA Leichhardt Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
The win is Olympic’s first grand final win since 2011, when they also claimed the premiership and championship double, while for APIA it was their second consecutive grand final defeat.
Led by their Spanish striker, Olympic delivered an incredible performance where they were rarely troubled by APIA’s record setting attack.
Sanchez helped set the tone right from the outset creating Olympic’s opener only four minutes into the contest before finding the back of the net himself twice.
The early goal took the wind out of APIA’s sails and they struggled to regain their composure throughout the remainder of the match.
Despite their persistent efforts, the Tigers could not find their way though Olympic’s defence before claiming a late consolation goal courtesy of a Themba Muata-Marlow spot kick.
Sydney Olympic made a lightning start to the clash and landed an early blow against APIA thanks to a sublime counterattacking move to make it 1-0.
Sanchez found space in the south western corner, after a cutting pass from Max Burgess, before delivering a pinpoint ball into the box which found an unmarked Pavicevic who cooly headed home.
The goal was a scare APIA could ill afford and it shook them into action with any plan of slowly warming into the game now well and truly out the window.
Sekiya was proving to be a tricky customer for the Olympic defence as APIA pushed forward with intent.
A last ditch challenge from Will Angel stopped the Japanese striker in his tracks only metres out from goal
Howard Fondyke spurned a brilliant chance midway through the half when he fired a free-kick from the edge of the box high over the crossbar.
APIA were playing a dangerous game with their side pushed high up the park desperate for an equaliser.
It was a tactic which backfired 35 minutes into the half as Sanchez stung them with a blistering counter attack and fired into an empty net after dribbling around the keeper to make it 2-0.
A fortuitous pass into the box created a half chance for Tigers striker Sekiya in the 43rd minute but he was unable to hit the target.
Sean Symons had one final roll of the dice for APIA before the interval but he too was unable to score after his effort was denied by Olympic shot stopper Paul Henderson.
It was a sensational first half from the premiers and one to forget for APIA.
Just like the first half, Olympic started the second stanza with intent and should’ve made it 3-0 only seconds after the restart.
An incredible diving save from Necevski denied an stinging Sanchez volley from only six yards out.
APIA needed a moment of magic to get back into the contest and looked to a strict diet of route one football to help them find a much needed goal.
Olympic’s defence held strong as the Tiger’s sent wave after wave of attack their way but created few opportunities or note.
Henderson was finally called into action 61 minutes in as he jumped above the pack to punch away a dangerous ball into the box.
His opposite number had a challenge of his own moments later with necevski making a clutch reaction save to deny Sanchez his brace.
However, the former La Liga striker wasn’t going to be kept out for long and made it 3-0 75 minutes in with a skilful finish.
Deep into added time APIA finally had there chance as Nathan Millgate was brought down in the penalty area and referee Kurt Ams pointed to the penalty spot.
Muata-Marlow dispatched a perfect free-kick to put APIA on the board but it proved to be merely a consolation goal as Olympic held on to win the historic double with a 3-1 triumph.
A jubilant Olympic coach Abbas Saad was lost for words after the win but praised his players for their brilliant performance.
“This is a great moment for the players and I’m so happy for them,”
“This result is like a dream. When i joined this team as coach only four days out from the start of the season i could never imagine a result like this.
“Today we executed our gameplay to perfection and once we found the early goal we were able to truly take control of the match.
“Everyone played out of their skin and they all deserve their success.”
A sombre Billy McColl reflected on what he called a painful defeat.
“Wining the grand final this year was everything the boys were working towards and to lose this game for the second straight year has been very difficult for them.
“The boys played very hard but today Olympic were the better team.
“We will regroup and shift our focus to our FFA Cup clash against Adelaide United in a few weeks.
“This loss is by no means the end for this team. We can be proud of what we have achieved and come back stronger next year.
Sydney Olympic FC: 3 (Pavicevic 4’, Sanchez Lopez 35’ 76′)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC: 1(Muata-Marlow 90+3’)
Sunday, September 9 2018
Leichhardt Oval, Lilyfield
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referes: Lance Greenshields & Kearny Robinson
Fourth Official: Craig Fisher
SYDNEY OLYMPIC: 1. Paul HENDERSON, 2. Tom WHITESIDE, 7. Will ANGEL (18. Brendan HOOPER 80’), 8. Jason MADONIS, 9. Radovan PAVICEVIC (33. Nikolas TSATTALIOS 76) , 10. Max BURGESS, 11. Jinya AN, 12. Zach MACKENZIE, 14. Alejandro SANCHEZ LOPEZ (5. James DEMETRIOU 87’), 19. Darcy BURGESS, 23. Riley WOODCOCK
Substitutes not used: 20. Ezequiel CONSONI, 24. Christopher GLIGOR
Yellow Cards: Sanchez 30’
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC: 1. Ivan NECEVSKI, 2. Nathan MILLGATE, 3. Paul GALIMI (8. Corey BIZCO 71’), 4. Josh SYMONS, 7. Howard FONDYKE, 10. Franco PARISI (17. Sam GULISANO 80’), 13. David D’APUZZO, 15. Themba MUATA-MARLOW, 16. SEAN SYMONS, 18. Adrian UCCHINO, 20. Tasuku SEKIYA
Substitutes not used: 5. Stephan ADATTINI, , 12. Benjamin MCCARRON, , 22. Blake TUXFORD
Yellow cards: Glaimi 43’, Fondyke 49’, Ucchino 78′
Paul Henderson 6.5 Cleared with confidence when require but, on the whole, didn’t have much work to do as his side was clearly superior.
Jinya An 6. A reliable but quiet game. Played his part in the but generally flew under the radar.
Will Angel 8. A great defensive display. Determined and confident, he was rewarded by a great crowd applause late in the game when he was replaced.
Darcy Burgess 7.5 Resilient and confident throughout the game. Played a vital role in his side’s win.
Max Burgess 8. Found openings and played his heart out all day. A faultless performance on many levels.
Zachary Mackenzie 6.5 Not a memorable game but certainly he didn’t put a foot wrong. The quintessential team player with a solid display
Jason Madonis 8. Captain courageous who led the team well, penetrated through the middle and can definitely be very proud of his efforts.
Radovan Pavicevic 8. A very good performance and had defenders always guessing. Was replaced late in the game as a just reward
Alejandro Sanchez-Lopez 9. Many superlatives would be required to describe his performance. He created havoc on right flank, created the first goal, scored the second and the third and really could have scored even more if not for Necevski’s heroics
Thomas Whiteside 7. Reliable and confident. One of Sydney Olympic’s toilers who deserved to be a part of the winning team.
Riley Woodcock 7.5 Was often involved in nice work and created space when required. Played his part in Olympic’s well-oiled machine
APIA Leichhardt Tigers
Ivan Necevski 7. Pulled off some great saves and still has what it takes to mix it with the best. APIA would lost by more if not for some of his heroics
David D’Apuzzo 6. A quiet game but didn’t do anything wrong either. Knew his role and executed it without fuss
Howard Fondyke 6. A few glimpses here and there of his talent but, on the whole, not much else besides a close free-kick early on.
Paul Galimi 6. Puts his body on line when required and defended courageously. Gave away a yellow card though and was replaced midway through the second half.
Nathan Millgate 6.5 Played his part in a losing team but can hold his head up for always trying even though he showed his frustration at the end with a silly yellow card.
Themba Muata Marlow 7. A reliable performance from one of APIA’s best on the day. Tracked back when required and even got upfront occasionally to create havoc.
Franco Parisi 7. Great touch as always from the veteran and created confusion and doubt in the defenders’ mind when he had the ball. A fan favourite as always.
Tasuku Sekiya 7.5 Possibly APIA’s best with his creativity and nice touches throughout the contest. Would have appreciated some better service from his teammates.
Joshua Symons 6. Tried to get involved but it is always difficult in a team that was well beaten. Not a game that he will remember fondly.
Sean Symons 7. Dangerous upfront and certainly one of APIA’s go-to men, but still could have done better with some chances.
Adrian Ucchino 6. The general of the side but being a general in a losing team is always difficult.