Sydney FC hold on as McFlynn sees red
Sydney FC held on to salvage a point despite losing captain Terry McFlynn to a red card in the first half of their Asian Champions League opener against Korea's Suwon Bluewings.
The reigning A-League champions kicked off their campaign with a scoreless draw at the Sydney Football Stadium on Wednesday in a fiery encounter that saw McFlynn dismissed after just 34 minutes.
The Northern Irishman was sent off after stomping on the arm of Suwon striker Lee Sang-Ho, meaning he is now likely to miss Sydney's next match, away to Japan's Kashima Antlers on March 16, through suspension.
While the decision to send off McFlynn enraged many of the 7095 fans, the Sky Blues refused to fall in a heap and fought on well with some desperate scrambling defence to ensure a share of the points.
The performance went some way to making amends for the ACL's Australian contingent after Melbourne Victory were hammered 5-1 away to Gamba Osaka in their opening clash on Tuesday night.
Unlike the Victory, Sydney were competitive from the outset against a Suwon outfit boasting four current Korean internationals but looking rusty having not played a competitive match since November.
Sydney FC coach Vitezslav Lavicka handed a debut to new signing David Williams and the former North Queensland man put in a lively 70-minute shift that earned the admiration of the home fans.
Fellow short-term recruit Andrew Durante also saw game time, coming on for the final 10 minutes.
The best chance for either side fell to Suwon's Choi Sung-Kuk, who should have scored when played in behind the line by a splendid through ball but he blasted over the bar in the eighth minute.
The real talking point, though, came when McFlynn was given his marching orders.
The skipper was engaged in a tussle with Lee and the striker went to ground before McFlynn trod on the striker's arm as he appeared to try to play on.
Despite protests the stomp was unintentional, Singaporean referee Abdul Bashir had no hesitation flashing the red card, earning a hostile response from the Sydney fans.
Although a man down, Sydney looked to grow into the game as neither side was able to create too much in attack.
Sydney looked slightly more under siege after halftime with Yan Sang-Min testing Liam Reddy from long range and Oh Jang-Eun coming close with a spectacular scissor-kick.
But Sydney fought well with striker Bruno Cazarine putting in an inspirational defensive effort to help get the job done and almost finding a late winner in the dying seconds.
McFlynn fronted the media after the match and was remorseful for leaving his team to fight for almost an hour with 10 men.
"I'd like to apologise to the manager and the team for getting sent off, the boys showed fantastic character and it was a great performance," McFlynn said.
"I think we deserved more out of the game than a draw.
"As for the incident itself, there was no malice in it at all.
"I tried to get over the top of the boy and I think there was a bit of contact.
"Again, I'd like to apologise to him if there was contact, the referee had a decision to make and he's made the decision."
Lavicka admitted the incident may have been "silly" but praised the character shown by his team.
"We wanted to win the game but we didn't have the plan to play 60 minutes with one man less," Lavicka said.
"But generally I have to say the team showed great character and it was a good team performance."
Suwon coach Yoon Sung-Hyo did not want to comment on the red card incident but was pleased to come away from the Australian trip with a point to show.
"We showed less organising skills because we trained for a short time only but I'm satisfied with getting one point," he said.