Sydney Olympic returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over APIA Leichhardt Tigers in a Grand Final rematch on ANZAC Day.
The reigning champions managed to replicate the result from their Grand Final victory last season, with Spanish star Alex Sanchez again scoring a double.
Sanchez’s two goals accompanied one from Jinya An, to thwart APIA’s one goal to Chris Payne.
The win gives Olympic a much-needed lift after a slow start to the season, while diminishes APIA’s chances of catching up to league leaders Wollongong this round.
The rivalry was apparent from the get-go as both teams battled for the advantage in the opening stages of the game.
An opened scoring in the 33rd minute, bending a beautiful free kick into the top corner.
Ivan Necevski managed to get a fingertip on the ball, but it wasn’t enough to deny Olympic the opener.
The home side came back for more just minutes later, with Spanish striker Sanchez doubling Olympic’s lead in his first game back from injury.
Radovan Pavicevic flicked a header on to Sanchez, who’s pace was too much for APIA’s defense, as he ran through to send his shot out of reach of Necevski and into the netting.
Sanchez came searching for more, taking it to three just before the half-time whistle.
Will Angel intercepted a ball from the visitors and passed to Sanchez inside the box, who worked his magic to send the ball over the line and secure a three-goal advantage for Olympic at the break.
It was fast-paced football in the opening stages of the second stanza as the game travelled from end-to-end.
The visitors made their way onto the scoreboard in the 65th minute, capitalising on a free kick to stay in the game.
Paul Henderson got a hand to Payne’s impressive free kick, but his touch saw the ball bounce over the line.
The action didn’t stop, with both sides knocking on the door for more until the final minutes of the game.
Olympic coach Abbas Saad was pleased with his team’s performance against a high-calibre team.
“We were fantastic, that was the old Olympic from last year,” he explained.
“They’re the team to beat this year.
“They’re a very, very good team, they’ve got good players all over the park.
“To beat a good team like APIA will hopefully give us a lot more confidence going forward.”
APIA coach John Calleja was disappointed that his team was left chasing the game after the break.
“The second half was better, it was a big improvement,” he said.
“It was more of the standard that we wanted to set right from the start rather than having to chase the game.
“To move forward I think we need to show that we turn up for every game and that we’re ready to play right from the start.”
Sydney Olympic FC 3 (Jinya An 33’, Alex Sanchez 37’, 45’)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Chris Payne 65’)
Thursday 25th April, 2019
Referee: Craig Fisher
Assistant referees: Raymond Osbourne, Joon Park
Fourth official: Jake Rose
Sydney Olympic FC: 1. Paul Henderson, 2. Thomas Whiteside, 4. Mitchell Stamatellis, 7. Will Angel, 8. Jason Madonis, 9. Radovan Pavicevic (6. Nikola Kuleski), 10. Harris Gaitatzis (25, Dimi Petratos), 11. Jinya An, 12. Zachary Mackenzie, 14. Alex Sanchez, 17. Jack Stewart (19. Darcy Burgess)
Substitutes Not Used: 22. Michael Gaitatzis, 30. Marley Beeston
Yellow Cards: Radovan Pavicevic 44’, Jason Madonis 76’ Zachary Mackenzie 78’
Red Cards: Nil
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 1. Ivan Necevski, 3. Paul Galimi (7. Tynan Diaz), 4. Joshua Symons, 6. Chistopher Payne, 8. Corey Biczo, 11. Andre De Jong, 12. Sam Mcillhatton (10. Franco Parisi), 15. Themba Muata-Marlow, 16. Sean Symons, 18. Adrian Ucchino, 21. Michael Kouta,
Substitutes Not Used: 14. Lachlan Hughes, 17. Samuel Gulisano, 22. Blake Tuxford
Yellow Cards: Sam Mcillhatton 6’, Adrian Ucchino 42’, Corey Biczo 43’,
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Alex Sanchez (SO)
2 – Jinya An (SO)
1 – Zachary Mackenzie (SO)
Written by Madeline Riley