Sydney FC have survived a scare at the hands of Western United, rallying late to secure a thrilling 3-3 draw against the reigning A-League Men champions.
Slovakian forward Robert Mak was the hero for Steve Corica's men, grabbing an 89th-minute equaliser to ensure Sydney remain inside the finals places in sixth spot.
Sydney, who missed the finals last year, are still on shaky ground with just five points between them and the bottom-placed Brisbane Roar.
Mak grabbed a double at Allianz Stadium on Saturday, with Spanish leftback Diego Caballo also scoring for the Sky Blues.
But the biggest concern for Corica will be how easily Western United cut them apart.
The defensive frailties which were exposed in the record 4-0 derby thrashing against the Wanderers a fortnight ago, were again on show as John Aloisi's side made light work of Sydney's brittle back four.
Andrew Redmayne has kept just one clean sheet in his last six games, with goals from Lachlan Wales and Connor Pain twice putting United ahead in the first half.
The Sky Blues were caught out at the back on both occasions, with the visitors' wide men punishing them on the counter.
At 1-0 down after Wales' 14th-minute strike, a slick pass from Max Burgess found Mak in the box with the experienced Sydney FC forward's finish trickling in off the glove of Western goalkeeper Jamie Young to level.
United's Dylan Pierias hit the woodwork with the visitors happily sitting deep, defending their lead and attacking with intent when they forced a turnover.
One such move led to a 57th-minute free kick which Ben Garuccio whipped in towards the head of Nikolai Topor-Stanley.
The veteran defender cushioned the ball across goal and, much to Sydney's frustration, it skipped off Luke Brattan's body and into the back of the net to make it 3-1 to United.
Brattan helped cut the deficit shortly afterwards when his pinpoint cross found Caballo, who finished past Young.
The veteran United keeper was facing an onslaught from the Sydney attackers and with every deflection off the woodwork or narrow miss, the groans grew from the home supporters.
But Mak took matters into his own hands, surging forward and finishing late on to snatch a vital point for the Sky Blues.
Australian Associated Press
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