Bernie Ibini admitted Sydney FC were relieved just to progress to the round of 16 of the Westfield FFA Cup after a scrappy 3-1 extra time victory over Melbourne City in Ballarat on Tuesday night.
Ali Abbas scored twice from the penalty spot in the second half of extra time to give the Sky Blues victory on a chilly night in country Victoria.
It also gave Sydney early bragging rights heading into the Hyundai A-League season opener at Allianz Stadium against John van't Schip's men.
Earlier in the night, Corey Gameiro capitalised on a mistake by City keeper Andy Redmayne to give the visitors an early lead at Morshead Park.
Nick Kalmar equalised in the second half for City to take the game into extra time.
“It was a tough game, Melbourne City gave us a tough game and we’re just happy to get through to the next round,” Ibini, one of the Foxtel A-League All Stars against Juventus, said.
“It wasn’t the most convincing game but it’s very early in the pre-season so hopefully we can get better by the next round.”
An understrength Sydney outfit were missing a host of stars including marquee striker Marc Janko and Ibini admitted the Sky Blues still have plenty of improvement left to do.
“Yeah definitely, there was quite a few players out. I played on Sunday [for the Foxtel A-League All Stars]... I had to backup on Tuesday so it was very tough for me,” said Sydney's new striker.
“We’ve got a lot of players to come back so it will make it a lot tougher to fight for positions so we will be looking forward to that.”