Freakish record of ‘best in comp’ in Sydney Derby win
THE Sydney Derby has a new record goalscorer: Adrian Mierzejewski.
He has played 180 minutes against Western Sydney Wanderers yet the Pole now has four goals. The next best, Alex Brosque on three goals, has played 795 minutes.
For the second time this season, the Sydney Derby will be remembered for the performance of Sydney FC's number 11, the man who brings out the guns with every goal.
On a night of torrential rain at Allianz Stadium, the final time this stadium will host Western Sydney Wanderers in its current form, Mierzejewski scored two goals in a 3-1 Sydney win.
It leaves the Sky Blues once again 11 points clear of Newcastle Jets in second - who Sydney next face in a game that could all but win them the Premiers' Plate. It also leaves Mierzejewski as the undisputed best player in the A-League, increasing his tally to 14 goals and eight assists.
"He's done it again," revelled Fox Sports commentator Brenton Speed when Mierzejewski thumped a perfect free kick over the Wanderers wall and in off the crossbar.
Andy Harper added: "It's another Derby belter from the Pole, the best in the competition."
The free kick, which left Wanderers goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic flailing, was the perfect reprieve for Sydney, who until the 44th minute strike had risked going into the half time break behind.
That was because of Andrew Redmayne's 10th minute fumble which allowed Oriol Riera to tap in the opener from close range.
Then, up stepped Mierzejewski with his free kick - the second in the space of two A-League games.
"It was a good game, but not perfect for us," Mierzejewski said to Fox Sports post-game.
"This season it's [free kick] number three, but on the other side of the box is Jordy [Buijs'] turn. I have to catch [Ross] McCormack who has scored four so I need one more."
It might not have been from a dead ball situation, but the Pole did have one more on the night - his second Derby double in two fixtures.
After David Carney marauded down the left to deliver a dangerous cross into the box, striker Matt Simon caused havoc and the loose ball fell to Mierzejewski who hit the bottom corner from just inside the box.
It was a pivotal goal, with two unsung players involved before the star shone. Carney had started at left back in the absence of injured Michael Zullo, while Simon was a surprise inclusion alongside Bobo up front to allow Alex Brosque a well-earned rest after Graham Arnold's men returned from a midweek game in Shanghai.
"I thought we dominated the whole game and the players did fantastically to back up," said Arnold post-game, who also singled out Paulo Retre for praise, playing out of position at right back with Luke Wilkshire suspended.
But on the man of the hour, Arnold was clear, Mierzejewski is here for a long time, unless a club from overseas pays big, big dollars.
"The club will make a lot of money if he goes," he said.
"He has a three year contract. One of the biggest things is that there's so much detail that goes into our recruitment - with Ninkovic, Bobo [and Buijs] we've got four outstanding foreign players.
"Adrian is a player who's all over the field so we have to make sure that other players cover him in our 4-4-2 so we have our structure. We work extremely hard on working with two No.10s, two No.6s and two No.9s and our fullbacks are also extremely important."
Ninkovic and Bobo, two of Sydney's four foreigners, then linked up to wrap up the game with 10 minutes to go.
The Serbian No.10's backheel allowed the Brazilian to slot home beyond Janjetovic. It was Bobo's 21st goal of an incredible season in front of goal. It was Ninkovic's eight involvement in a goal for last season's Johnny Warren Medallist.
But on Sunday night, Adrian Mierzejewski proved again why he's Sydney's and the A-League's best.