Sydney FC 7
Wellington Phoenix 1
The dream for the Wellington Phoenix was to play a brand of attractive, winning football. The reality was a stunningly depressing nightmare.
After 25 minutes the Phoenix were 4-0 down. By halftime it was five and by full-time seven. You could almost feel the sense of bewilderment and confusion in Ricki Herbert's head as he tried to work out what had become of his once stubborn defensive unit.
Sydney's marquee signing Alessandro Del Piero terrorised the Phoenix back four with a master class of passing, creating and finishing and his world-class performance and four goal haul ultimately was the difference.
At halftime the Phoenix had made seven attempts on goal, while Sydney had only five. But as Stein Huysegems missed a hat-trick of good opportunities in the first 30 minutes for the Phoenix; Del Piero, Joel Griffiths and Jason Culina showed much more composure for the homeside, dispatching each half chance they got with clinical precision.
The Phoenix will feel aggrieved by the penalty they conceded after 22 minutes, when Jason Culina went down under a very soft challenge by Andrew Durante on the edge of the box. It seemed a weak shout, and helped kill the game off at 3-0, but ultimately proved a footnote in the wider scheme of the Phoenix's self-destruction.
But make no mistake this night was all about the class of Del Piero. If there were any doubters about his age or ability they have now been silenced. He gave us all a glimpse of what a truly world class player looks like in the A-League and his brilliance will long live on in the memories of the fans who were watching tonight.
Ben Sigmund pulled a late consolation goal back for the Phoenix in the 79th minute before Yairo Yau finished off proceedings for Sydney, helping them to their biggest ever win and the Phoenix's heaviest loss.
For Herbert and the Phoenix, the result could not have come at a worse time. After three successive losses, this was the match they targeted to turn things around. But they looked lost. The previously dependable back four of Tony Lochead, Andrew Durante, Ben Sigmund and Leo Bertos looked totally out of sorts and the gaps and holes in the defence were at times staggering.
The Phoenix had been working toward playing a more attractive brand of football but surely they must go back to the drawing board now and try to revive the win at all costs formula that has taken them to the playoffs for the past three seasons.
For now they sit rooted to the bottom of the table, and the worst result in the six year history of the club is one that everyone will need to quickly forget.