The Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets were defeated by Sydney FC 2-0 in the Hyundai A-League season opener at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.
The Jets started the contest in a positive fashion, with loan signing Nathan Burns linking up well in the front third with strike partner Adam Taggart, while James Virgili and Craig Goodwin attacked down the flanks and won a series of corners for the visitors.
However, neither side was able to fashion a clear sight of goal in the opening stages with Ali Abbas’ tame effort in the seventh minute of the contest the only shot on target in a cagey opening 20 minutes.
The match sprung into life in the 22nd minute with the Jets creating their best chance of the half with a one-two between Sam Gallaway and Goodwin on the left setting Gallaway free in the box.
Gallaway bore down on goal only to be thwarted by a desperate last-ditch tackle by Joel Chianese.
Sydney responded swiftly, with Alessandro Del Piero finding Chianese in open space on the right.
The Sky Blues’ forward carried the ball into the penalty area, but Jets shot stopper Mark Birighitti was quickly off his line to make a courageous save.
Sydney’s new signing Matt Thompson almost put the home side ahead in the 26th minute, hitting the crossbar with a powerful strike from 25m out.
The ball deflected off the woodwork on to the back of Birighitti, but in a stroke of luck for the Jets, bounced away from the goalmouth and clear of danger.
Sydney eventually did break the dead lock in the 36th minute through their marquee man Del Piero.
The former Italian international picked the ball up in space on the left side of the field before running at Jets centre-back Connor Chapman.
Chapman appeared to have Del Piero covered, forcing him wide of the goal, only to get tangled up with teammate Zenon Caravella.
The mishap allowed Del Piero enough time and space to wriggle free of the Jets’ defence and poke a shot into the bottom corner past Birighitti to give Sydney a 1-0 lead.
Del Piero almost doubled Sydney’s lead on the stroke of half-time, with a long-range effort drifting inches over the bar.
Sydney did get their second goal after the interval, with Del Piero winning the ball from Caravella in midfield before releasing Chianese down the right.
Chianese dribbled into the box, before blasting a right-footed strike past Birighitti into the roof of the net to give Sydney a 2-0 lead.
The Jets went close to getting a goal back just two minutes later, with Sam Gallaway whipping in a delightful cross from the left flank that picked out Taggart’s run into the box.
Taggart made good contact with his header, only to see it loop agonizingly over the crossbar.
Newcastle’s next chance came via a set piece in the 68th minute, with Craig Goodwin bending a free-kick around the wall, only to see it wrapped up by Vedran Janjetovic despite an awkward bounce.
Sydney appeared to have made it 3-0 in the 83rd minute with Richard Garcia finding the back of the net after a stunning double save from Birighitti, only to see the offside flag go up.
The Jets were inches away from getting a goal back in stoppage time with Ruben Zadkovich’s free-kick was headed onto the crossbar by Jacob Pepper.
However, that was as close as the Jets came, with Sydney FC holding onto their 2-0 advantage and taking home three points.
Sydney FC 2 (Del Piero 36’, Chianese 59’)
Newcastle Jets 0