Classy Sydney FC playmaker Milos Ninkovic has shrugged off the bruising early treatment he got in his side's A-League derby, which coach Steve Corica had warned his players about.
The Harbour City rivals slugged out a 1-1 draw at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, with second-placed Sydney missing the chance to put a little more pressure on ladder leaders Perth, who can clinch the Premiers Plate on Sunday with a home win over Newcastle.
Sydney hit the front through a fine seventh-minute strike from captain Alex Brosque, who bruised a heel in scoring the goal.
A deflected second-half free kick from Alex Baumjohann earned the home side a deserved point.
Wanderers took no prisoners early on and had three players booked in three minutes before the game was even 15 minutes old.
Serbian Ninkovic was on the receiving end of a number of crunching tackles, but was philosophical rather than angry.
'Derbies, especially in the first 30 minutes, are always tough," Ninkovic told AAP.
"I've already played so many derbies and I knew what was going to happen, every derby is difficult."
Corica wasn't surprised by the fiery start to the game, though he felt referee Shaun Evans could have issued a yellow card even earlier than the first he handed out in the 11th minute, when he booked Keanu Baccus for a foul on Ninkovic.
"It's a derby, it's physical, they got stuck into us early on," Corica said.
'I think the yellow card could have come out maybe a little bit earlier than what it did, but that's my opinion.
"But once they come out they come out thick and fast because they were getting stuck into us, but our boys carried on and got on with it.
"It's a derby game, you expect that to be physical.
"That's what I said to them before the game - be ready for it because they've got nothing to lose."
Wanderers coach Markus Babbel said he wasn't worried by the three early bookings for his side.
"Two of them I think were (for) nothing," Babbel said.
He did however replace the combative Baccus at halftime.
'He's a local guy and maybe he was a bit over motivated but he's 20 years old, he will learn from this,"' Babbel said.
Brosque came off at halftime, but Corica was hopeful his skipper would be fit for Thursday's home clash with Perth.
Corica said left back Michael Zullo was an 80 per cent chance of returning from injury for that game.
Australian Associated Press