Sydney FC loses late after Del Piero taken off


SYDNEY (AP) -Sydney FC led the Melbourne Victory 2-0 before Alessandro Del Piero came off in the 66th minute. A half hour later, his A-League side had lost for the fourth time in six matches, and a day after the former Italy and Juventus star's 38th birthday.

Substitute midfielder Andrew Nabbout scored his second goal of the match a minute into added time to give the Victory a 3-2 comeback win and spoiling Del Piero's return to the starting lineup. It also ultimately resulted in the resignation of coach Ian Crook for health reasons.

Del Piero missed last week's match due to tightness in both hamstrings, a 7-2 loss to the Central Coast Mariners. After Saturday's match, Crook was involved in a heated argument with fans on the sideline who criticized him for substituting Del Piero.

Crook, who signed a two-year contract in May, decided to pull the plug on his Sydney FC coaching career Sunday, citing health reasons. Assistant Steve Corica will be interim coach until a replacement is found.

"I just felt that it's started to affect me and probably my health. I haven't enjoyed it for a few weeks, if the truth be known," Crook said at a media conference.

The Italian striker trained only once this week and Crook said Saturday the plan was originally to bring him off at halftime.

"It's nothing, that's the way it is," Crook said of the incident with the fans, adding the spectators were "just having a go at me."

The 19-year-old Nabbout also scored in the 79th minute and Archie Thompson in the 86th to help the Victory overcome the 2-0 deficit. Sydney had gone ahead through Panamanian striker Yairo Yau, converting a pass from Del Piero in the 14th, and Dutch defender Pascal Bosschaart, in the 48th.

The A-League's other high-profile import this season, former England international Emile Heskey, scored his fifth goal in six matches to give the Newcastle Jets a 2-1 win over the first-year Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Wanderers took a 1-0 lead after 15 minutes on Joe Gibbs' goal, but Ryan Griffiths leveled in the 28th and Heskey scored the close-range winner in the 37th after a Craig Goodwin cross.

Newcastle finished the game with 10 men after substitute Jacob Pepper received two yellow cards in the last six minutes.

"He (Heskey) was great again tonight, the amount of times where he holds the ball up or flicks the ball on and people can pick up that ball," Newcastle coach Gary van Egmond said. "It just brings so much confidence into the group as well."

On Friday, defending champions Brisbane slumped to last place after a 4-1 loss to the Melbourne Heart. It was the Roar's third loss in a row and they've scored just once in that span, Henrique's consolation effort with eight minutes left.

Patrick Gerhardt gave the Heart a 1-0 lead over Brisbane in the 20th and former Socceroo Richard Garcia made it 2-0 in the 62nd. Croatian striker Josip Tadic, on a penalty, and substitute David Williams completed the scoring.

The poor performance prompted an apology from Roar captain Matt Smith to coach Rado Vidosic and the team's fans.

"Tonight was, to me, probably the lowest point I've had at the club," Smith said.

Vidosic agreed with Smith's assessment of the match.

"There was no heart in our play," the team's first-year coach said. "It was just the game that individuals didn't want to play in, didn't want to perform."

On Sunday, Adelaide will attempt to remain in first place and win its fifth in six matches when it plays Perth, and Central Coast takes on Wellington to conclude the sixth round.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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