Saprissa down impressive Sydney FC - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saprissa down impressive Sydney FC

By Philip Henderson 12/12/2005 11:31:30 PM Comments (0)

Sydney FC boosted Australia's growing world football reputation, but fell short of a dream meeting with European giants Liverpool after losing 1-0 to Deportivo Saprissa in the FIFA Club World Championships in Nagoya, Japan on Monday night.

The A-League club - minnows in this best-of-the-best club tournament featuring the winners of FIFA's six confederations - dominated the North/Central American champions for long periods but were left to rue a defensive lapse three minutes after the break.

Saprissa midfielder Christian Bolanos took full advantage to score what proved the winner for the Costa Ricans.

Sydney, though, was hardly disgraced playing in the bitter cold of a half-filled Toyota Stadium.

And despite losing Alvin Ceccoli late to a straight red card, and Sasho Petrovski to injury, continued to push hard for equaliser all the way to the death.

The win sees Saprissa go through to a semi-final showdown with Liverpool.

Sydney, meanwhile, will battle Egyptian outfit Al Ahly, the African champions, in Tokyo on Friday in the playoff for fifth.

Sydney surprised Saprissa in a frenetic opening 20 minutes and would have felt they deserved to go into the break ahead after controlling the first half.

Midfielder David Carney proved a handful on the right side, with Steve Corica doing likewise in the centre of the park, and Dwight Yorke, Petrovski and Kazuyoshi Miura combining well up forward to give Sydney at least a half-dozen clean-cut chances in the first half.

Sydney continued to exert its dominance in the midfield as the half drew on, following the gameplan of coach Pierre Littbarski to a tee and continually pressuring Saprissa into making mistakes.

Saprissa - 23-times Costa Rican champions and three-time CONCACAF title holders - looked dangerous from set pieces, but beside a handful of hazardous free kicks struggled to get a handle on the game during the opening 45 minutes.

That all changed just three minutes into the second half when Bolanos put the Costa Ricans ahead.

Bolanos caught defender Andrew Packer napping wide on the left side to charge onto a speculative Saprissa long ball and guide his strike past Bolton.

His side now on the back foot, Littbarski introduced nippy striker John Buonavoglia and experienced defender Mark Rudan in the 60th minute to try and grab an equaliser.

As Sydney continued to push for the goal, an overzealous Alvin Ceccoli was shown a dubious red card in the 81st minute for a challenge on Saprissa `keeper Jose Porras.

Sydney was reduced to nine men when Petrovski left the pitch with a head injury in the 88th, but continued to pepper the Saprissa goal.

`Keeper Clint Bolton pulled off a handful of superb saves in the final moments to keep Sydney in the hunt, but the goal never came.

Despite reports the match would be a 45,000-crowd sell out, there was no shortage of seats available at the state-of-the-art Toyota Stadium.

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