SYDNEY (Reuters) - Substitute striker Kosta Petratos scored a 90th-minute winner in a 2-1 victory for the Newcastle Jets over Sydney FC on Tuesday that kept alive his team’s slim A-League playoff hopes and denied their opponents the Premiers Plate.
Defending champions Sydney needed only one point to secure the trophy by ensuring they would finish top of the table at the end of the regular season and looked to be coasting towards it with time almost up at Kogarah Oval.
Petratos, who had started on the bench with his two brothers Yerasimakis and Dimitrios, looked to be going nowhere when he suddenly turned on the left edge of the penalty box and lashed the ball through a crowd of defenders and into the net.
Sydney will now have to wait until their next match against Melbourne City on Aug. 1 at the Olympic Stadium for another chance to secure the top seeding in the championship playoffs for the third time in the last four campaigns.
They have plenty of breathing room, however, with an 11-point lead over second-placed City, who are in quarantine after crossing the state border from Victoria following its closure in the wake of a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Sydney’s 3-1 victory over Wellington Phoenix at the same ground last Friday marked the resumption of the campaign with six rounds of the regular season and the playoffs remaining.
They looked to be on their way to another win when Anthony Caceres bundled a well-placed pass from German midfielder Alexander Baumjohann into the net in the 25th minute.
The Jets, playing their first match since the resumption, got a deserved equaliser 13 minutes after the break, however, when midfielder Nick Fitzgerald volleyed home Matthew Millar’s cross.
Newcastle, championship playoff final losers as recently as the 2017-18 season, are now three points off a playoff spot with three matches left in their campaign.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Christian Radnedge