Steven Lustica was the hero yet again for Western United as the midfielder’s second-half strike secured the Green and Black a huge 1-0 win over Sydney FC.
In a tense affair, United seized control of proceedings in the second half and ultimately found the winner just after the hour mark.
Lustica’s excellent left-footed strike flew into the top corner after some lovely interplay around the box and sees United return to the top of the table.
There were two changes to the starting XI from Sunday’s thrilling victory over Western Sydney Wanderers, with Alessandro Diamanti managed for the clash and Tomoki Imai dropping to the bench.
United youngster Adisu Bayew came in to make his maiden A-League Men start of the season in place of the former, while Nikolai Topor-Stanley replaced Imai at centre half.
Western United began swiftly with Dylan Pierias immediately using his pace down the right-hand side to get the hosts on the front foot early.
But Sydney quickly settled into the game and began to dictate the tempo, keeping United back in its own half with a spell of sustained possession.
Despite that, Aloisi’s side limited the Sky Blues to mainly half chances and set piece opportunities, though Jamie Young was on hand to make a sharp save with his feet to deny Anthony Caceres from close range.
United posed a threat on the counter attack with plenty of pace going forward, and a lot the team’s best work came through Bayew, Lachie Wales and Ben Garuccio linking up down the left.
Bayew had one effort that he couldn’t keep far enough away from Andrew Redmayne after some lovely build-up play, and the same could be said for a long-range effort from Wales as the Sydney goalkeeper saved comfortably.
Both sides went into the break without really seriously troubling the opposition, but United would come out of the interval the better side.
Shortly after the restart United came closest to opening the scoring when a Sydney defender sliced a clearance from a Lustica cross, looping the ball over Redmayne’s head and onto the crossbar.
Rene Krhin came off the bench at half-time and immediately inserted control into United’s midfield, helping the home side to stay on the front foot for longer periods.
Sydney maintained a threat on the break themselves with Elvis Kamsoba’s lightning pace in behind, and Max Burgess was dangerous with balls in behind.
But a strong second half showing eventually earned United the opening goal just after the hour mark, and it was yet another beautiful strike for the Lustica’s highlight reel.
Neil Kilkenny fired a brilliant pass into Aleksandar Prijovic’s feet just inside the box, and the Serbian laid off his third assist in two matches for United’s No.10 who did all the rest.
Lustica stayed composed under pressure in the box, shifted the ball onto his left foot with a lovely dummy and fired the ball into the roof of the net for his fourth of the season.
As much as Sydney tried to push for an equaliser, United’s rigid defence remained strong in the face of each challenge and repelled every Sky Blue advance to claim a second consecutive win and return to the top of the league.