Steve Corica hailed Brazilian new boy Fabio Gomes after his second-half double helped deliver Sydney FC their first silverware in three years with a 3-1 Australia Cup final win over the Brisbane Roar.
Gomes was thrown into the action in the 64th minute with Sydney a goal behind after teenage sensation Thomas Waddingham had given the Roar a first-half lead.
But Gomes had only been on three minutes at Allianz Stadium on Saturday when he slotted a penalty to draw Sydney level.
The striker adding his second in added time following Robert Mak’s close-range effort.
The cup triumph was Sydney’s first trophy under Corica since the 2020 A-League Men championship and came despite Jack Rodwell and Socceroos leftback Joel King being unavailable with injury.
Sydney winger Joe Lolley was named the winner of the Mark Viduka Medal as man of the match.
“He (Gomes) is still finding his feet but he showed exactly what we brought him here to do,” Corica said.
“He’s been training as normal with the team but he wasn’t fully fit when he got here.
“It’s fantastic to win trophies. It’s been a few years since our last trophy so we’re happy to be back with one so early in the season.”
At times in front of a 15,482 crowd, the Sky Blues had to ride their luck and they were fortunate to not have defender Jake Girdwood-Reich sent off for clattering into the face of Brisbane winger Henry Hore with his forearm.
VAR is not in use in the Australia Cup, much to the chagrin of Roar boss Ross Aloisi.
“I don’t want to take too much away from the game because it was a really good game of football,” Aloisi said.
“When a player swings an arm and the referee says to our players that if hit with the elbow it was a red card, but because he didn’t, it’s not a red card… I know people make mistakes but where is the VAR? It’s a hugely important game for both clubs.”
The resolute Roar, for the most part, were the better side.
The club have been a rabble on and off the field in recent years but the return of Aloisi as head coach and their run to the final has created a buzz about what they could achieve in the league this season.
They sounded a handful of warning shots before Hore sent a low cross into the box which deflected into Waddingham’s path tucked in for his fourth goal in five starts in the Australia Cup.
Girdwood-Reich’s non-dismissal helped Sydney remain at 11 and they were able to hit back after halftime when a Hore handball allowed Gomes to open his Sky Blues count from the spot.
Brisbane’s young squad began to wobble and Mak added to their pain soon after.
Gomes tapped in a 91th minute winner to end the Roar’s hopes and wrap up victory for Sydney, even if there was a question over offside in the build-up.