SYDNEY (AP) — Sydney FC edged further away from a mid-season crisis of form and confidence with a 2-0 win over Newcastle which lifted it to fourth place in the A-League.
Two weeks and two wins after protesting fans called for the sacking of coach Frank Farina, board chairman Scott Barlow and chief executive Tony Pignata during a 3-0 loss to Adelaide, Sydney hoisted itself back into playoff contention with its first back-to-back wins in 12 rounds.
Captain Alessandro Del Piero laid on the opening goal and scored the second from the penalty spot as Sydney built on its previous 2-1 win over Perth.
In other matches, second-place Western Sydney Wanderers beat Perth 2-0 and the Melbourne Victory rallied to beat Adelaide 4-3 and to stay in third place in the standings.
The Wellington Phoenix bounced back from last week's 5-0 home loss to the Melbourne Heart with a 4-1 win over defending champion Central Coast.
On Sunday, last-placed Melbourne Heart beat league-best Brisbane 1-0 to extend their unbeaten run to six games. Orlando Engelaar scored the winning goal in the 61st minute.
Del Piero played a key role in Sydney's win over Newcastle. He first found the unmarked Sasa Ognenovski with a corner in the 60th minute, then drew a foul from defender Taylor Regan in the 72nd and converted the subsequent penalty.
Farina said Sydney earned "a huge three points" at a tumultuous time.