SYDNEY'S Festival of Football began with goals galore today but it was A-League champions Sydney FC who finished up on the wrong end of a 5-3 thriller against Greek giants AEK Athens.
To see AEK fans ride the rollercoaster in Sydney...
The Sky Blues twice came from a goal down thanks to strikes from the newly re-signed Alex Brosque but AEK proved too strong in the second-half and capitalised on Sydney FC errors.
AEK take eight points for the win - three points for a victory and a point for each goal - while Sydney FC takes home three points.
The Sky Blues next opponent will be Scotland's Rangers who they face at the SFS on Wednesday 28 July (8pm kick-off).
Sydney FC coach Vitezslav Lavicka said the game provided his team, who was without Nicky Carle, Terry Antonis and Stuart Musialik through injury - with a number of lessons.
"I think eight goals is great entertainment for the spectators," he said. "For us it was a big but bitter lesson.
"Especially in defence because (our) opponent played very well. In attack they are a very good quality team. We made several mistakes and good quality team, as AEK are, punished every Sydney FC mistake.
"We scored three goals is pretty positive but we can't be satisfied with the performance today. We are happy we can play against this opponent and I believe we will improve next time, we will play better."
The match began quietly with neither team taking control of the game. Both teams attempted to build up play through the midfield but neither could capitalise with a decent shot on target.
In fact the first respectable shot on target was not until 19th minute after Panagiotis Lagos darted through the midfield, passing the ball to his left and the receiving the ball back but Lagos could only hit the ball straight to goal keeper Ivan Necevski.
The game came to life in the 30th minute when Nikos Lyberopulos received the ball from a throw-in passing the ball onto Brazilian Leonardo Pereira who powerfully hit the ball low and into the goal.
AEK's lead was short lived as Brosque equalised within two minutes after AEK's captain, Kafes Pantelis, handballed in the box after a Sydney corner during the 32nd minute. Referee Ben Williams awarded Sydney the penalty and Brosque equalised, sending AEK's Ioannis Arampatzis the wrong way, right in front of the Cove and the scores were once again equal.
It was not long until AEK regained the lead when in the 37th minute Kafes headed a corner from Pereira to the far side of goal where Ismael Blanco successfully headed the ball into the goals, giving AEK a 2-1 lead - one they would take into halftime.
Lavicka swapped Kofi Danning for Brendan Gan at the main break with youngster getting another valuable 45 minutes under his belt before the A-League season commences on August 7.
Seven minutes into the second half, Sydney again levelled the scores, this time equalising in the most bizarre fashion after Kostas Manolas back passed to keeper Arampatzis. With Brosque bearing down, Arampatzis attempted to pass back to Manolas only to slip at the crucial moment, tapping the ball straight to Brosque. Already on the ground, Arampatzis could do nothing as Brosque pushed the ball into the net.
From there, however, AEK asserted its dominance. They re-established their advantage in the 59th minute when Niko Lyberopulos pounced on a Sydney FC turnover on the half way line. Sprinting up the midfield on quick counter attack, Lyberopulos passed left to Ignacio Scocco who passed back to Lyberopulos who drilled home the goal after running the full half of the field.
AEK extended the lead after jumping a soft back pass. Ingnacio Scocco intercepted the pass, hitting the ball past Necevski to give the Greek side a 4-2 lead.
AEK scored their fifth of the match with an impressive midfield play. Lagos passed the ball left to Lyberopulos who hit the ball goalwards. Necevski parried the ball away from danger only for AEK's Kafes to volley the ball back into the goal.
Sydney pulled on back in the 89th minute when Rhyan Grant lobbed the ball in from left field finding triallist Ibrahima Thiam unmarked on the far goal post. The 198cm tall Senegalese striker, who only arrived in the country on Friday, headed the ball strongly under pressure into the goal.
Sydney FC: 3 (BROSQUE 33', 48', TIT89'THIAM 89')
AEK Athens: 5 (PEREIRAR 30', BLANCO 37', LYBEROPULOS 60', SCOCCO 74', KAFES 77')
Sydney FC Line-up: 2. Sebastian RYALL, 3. Stephan KELLER, 7. Brendan GAN (11. Kofi DANNING 45'), 12. Shannon COLE, 14. Alex BROSQUE (5. Hayden FOXE 82'), 15. Terry MCFLYNN, 19. Mark BRIDGE (9. Ibrahima THIAM 69'), 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 21. Scott JAMIESON, 22. Sung-Hwan BYUN, 28 Hiro MORIYASU (23. Rhyan GRANT 69')
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Liam REDDY, 13. Antony GOLEC, 18. David GULLO, 25. Nathan SHERLOCK
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Goals: 14. Alex BROSQUE 33', 48', Ibrahima THIAM 89'
AEK Athens Line-up: 1. Pantelis KAFES, 4. Kostas MANOLAS (55. Traianos DELLAS 83'), 5. Daniel MAJSTOROVIC, 8. Sanel JAHIC, 9. Leonardo PEREIRAR (20. Luiz EDER 75'), 18. Ismael BLANCO (24. Nathan BURNS 62'), 19. Panagiotis LAGOS, 22. Ioannis ARAMPATZIS (gk), 32. Ignacio SCOCCO (14. Gregoris MAKOS 86'), 33. Nikos LYBEROPULOS, 90. Savvas GENTZOGLU.
Substitutes Not Used: 15. Nikos KARABELAS, 17. Antestis ARGIRIOU, 23. Diego SAJA (gk),
Yellow Cards: 4. Kostas MANOLAS 58'
Red Cards: Nil.
Goals: 9. Leonardo PEREIRAR 30', 18. Ismael BLANCO 37', 33. Nikos LYBEROPULOS 60', 32. Ignacio SCOCCO 74', 1. Pantelis KAFES 77')
Referee: Ben Williams
Crowd: 14,153 at the Sydney Football Stadium
More to follow...