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FA Cup quarterfinal draw

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Del Piero scores four as Sydney win 7-1

Alessandro Del Piero's four-goal master class inspired Sydney FC to their biggest ever A-League win, a spectacular 7-1 thrashing of Wellington Phoenix at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.

Marquee star Del Piero delighted 12,691 home fans with one of the finest individual performances seen in the A-League, netting the competition's second-fastest hat-trick in the first half and adding another goal after halftime.

While the 38-year-old Italian stole the show, he had a strong supporting cast, with new signing Joel Griffiths delivering the opening goal and a fine all-round display on debut.

The performance moved Sydney to the cusp of the top six as they registered back-to-back wins for only the second time in a turbulent season.

The defeat equalled the Phoenix's worst losing streak of four, and they remain rooted to the foot of the ladder with pressure mounting on coach Ricki Herbert.

Sydney coach Frank Farina handed starting debuts to both Griffiths and fellow new recruit Tiago, and would surely have been hoping the fresh faces could provide a lift.

But even he could not have predicted the Sky Blues' explosive start as they raced to a five-goal lead inside 39 minutes.

Former Newcastle striker Griffiths, returning to the A-League after more than four years spent in China, oozed class from the beginning and opened the scoring in the 11th minute when he combined brilliantly with new strike partner Del Piero.

The Italian delivered a superb, lofted-through ball from almost halfway, and Griffiths read it perfectly before latching onto it from a tight angle to score.

From there, Del Piero stole the show.

He was allowed too much time and space in the box in the 21st minute when he cooly steered the ball past Mark Paston and had his brace two minutes later.

There was more than a touch of fortune as Andrew Durante was harshly adjudged to have fouled Jason Culina inside the box and Del Piero made no mistake with the penalty.

Culina continued his remarkable return from injury with a goal of his own in the 26th minute, driving home from a tight angle after Ali Abbas' cross.

Del Piero then wrapped a hat-trick inside 18 minutes, unleashing a powerful, curling shot from the top of the box after again being allowed room to move.

The Phoenix were not without their chances, but headed into the sheds stunned.

There was more pain to come in the second half.

Griffiths earned a standing ovation as he was replaced by Yairo Yau in the 65th minute before Del Piero secured the first four-goal performance of his career five minutes later.

The Italy and Juventus great tormented Durante with some fancy footwork before unleashing another pin-point finish off the underside of the crossbar.

Wellington's Ben Sigmund bagged a consolation goal in the 79th minute but it could not prevent their worst ever loss.

Yau ensured that when he played a brilliant one-two with Blake Powell to score in the 84th minute, moments after Del Piero had been substituted off to an enormous ovation.


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