SYDNEY — Sydney FC overcame the loss of Alessandro Del Piero to injury and beat Newcastle 2-0 to extend its winning streak to a club record four matches and moving up to third place in the A-League.
Del Piero limped from the field in the 43rd minute with a hamstring strain, immediately collecting a yellow card for failing to inform match officials before heading to the bench.
Sydney scored within two minutes of his departure through Joel Chianese and clinched the win with a goal to Ranko Despotovic, the former Serbia striker who has scored in his first two A-League games.
The win carried Sydney into third, three points behind Brisbane which earlier beat Perth 1-0.
Western Sydney Wanderers moved into second when they drew 0-0 away to winless Wellington on Sunday while last-placed Melbourne Heart came from 2-0 down to draw 3-3 with Adelaide United.
Champion Central Coast drew 0-0 on Friday with the Melbourne Victory.
Sydney's win not only continued its rapid rise but reversed fan sentiment toward coach Frank Farina, who survived calls for his sacking only a month ago.
"I've said for years that if you can string together two, three or even four wins in a row then you'll rocket up the table," Farina said. "But of course losing games like that can have the opposite effect.
"It's nice to get four in a row, but we're only eight rounds in so we've just got to keep going. We've got the champions (Central Coast) next week and that automatically earns them respect."
Brisbane's Albanian striker Besart Berisha scored to give the Roar a 1-0 win over Perth. Understrength Perth stifled Brisbane for much of the match but Berisha broke the deadlock in the 57th minute and added to the pressure on the club to re-sign him amid reports he is being courted by Sydney.
"He couldn't play for anybody else in the A-League," Brisbane coach Mike Mulvey said. "He's got orange blood. He's loved by the players, he's loved by the fans. Of course we want to keep him. We'll do everything we can."
Central Coast coach Phil Moss said his players weren't distracted by off-field events in their scoreless draw with Melbourne Victory.
Owner Mike Charlesworth has been forced this week to refute suggestions the Mariners may pull out of the Asian Champions League to save money or that they are considering a move from Gosford to North Sydney.
Former majority owner Peter Turnbull and championship-winning coach Graham Arnold were farewelled at halftime.
"The whole club is going through a transition period at the moment and we've got to work hard to get through the other end," Moss said.