Yet another A-League match has been overshadowed by the controversial use of the Video Assistant Referee to review a disgusting spitting incident during Sydney FC's 3-1 romp over Brisbane Roar at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
Sydney FC consolidated their spot on the top of the table with an impressive, one-sided and seemingly routine win but that will almost be forgotten after Brisbane defender Avraam Papadopoulos spat at Matt Simon in an incident that was terribly reviewed and handled by the VAR.
Farcical handling of the new technology has plagued the start of the A-League season and there are few signs of improvement after the VAR brought play to a stand still for approximately four minutes only to fail to reach a verdict to help referee Alex King.
After an inexplicable delay, King had to personally review the footage on the sideline before making a controversial decision to send off two players.
The major delay was perhaps the sorest point of frustration, especially after Football Federation Australia suggested decisions are expected to be made within 40 seconds.
It follows the poor use of the VAR on Friday night during Perth Glory's win over Melbourne City.
The issue failed to derail Sydney FC, however, and if there were any suggestions of fatigue setting in four days after their gruelling FFA Cup win over Adelaide United, Sydney quashed those just eight minutes into the match.
Adrian Mierzejewski played a quick ball to the feet of Simon, who then put David Carney through on goal with a deft flick-on. Carney took one touch to control and then a second to slot the opener past Jamie Young.
Five minutes later and the Sky Blues were in cruise control.
Brisbane defender Jacob Pepper blocked a Carney header with his bicep inside the box to gift the hosts a chance to double their lead from the penalty spot.
Mierzejewski emphatically did just that, slamming a powerful shot into the roof of the net to make it 2-0.
Brisbane caused problems for Sydney FC with a relentless press in their final third, asking questions of the hosts' ability to play out of defence in the absence of fleet-footed fullback Michael Zullo and the ever-clever Milos Ninkovic in midfield.
Brisbane's veteran forward, Massimo Maccarone, looked like the most likely to claw the visitors back into the contest but his intelligent play did no more than cause problems for Sydney's defenders.
The Sky Blues should have sealed the win late in the first half when Carney missed a free header from inside the box before Josh Brillante's excellent through ball to Alex Brosque also should have resulted in a third goal.
Sydney's captain was thwarted by a well-timed block from Young on the stroke of half-time.
An astute linesman denied Brisbane a goal immediately after the restart that also spared the blushes of Sydney FC goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne, who misread a set piece where three Roar players were offside.
The signs of fatigue eventually began to show on the hour mark for Sydney FC, who had made only three changes to their starting team that won the FFA Cup in extra time during the week.
After a mostly impressive performance, Papadopoulos' evening will only be remembered for the disgraceful act of spitting at Simon, who reacted angrily by grabbing the Roar defender's shirt.
The incident was initially unsighted by the referee, but the VAR then brought play to a standstill for a number of minutes before failing to come to a conclusion.
King reviewed the footage on the sideline - soaking up more time - before sending-off Papadopoulos and in a baffling decision, issuing a red card too for Simon's reaction.
Papadopoulos now faces a lengthy suspension - potentially with a minimum of six games.
"I haven't spoken to Avraam yet but as a club we don't condone it, it's not acceptable - the spit - and we'll deal with that," Roar coach John Aloisi said.
The Sky Blues' frustration with the bizarre officiating didn't come at any further cost and a Seb Ryall header at the far post sealed the win in the 79th minute.
A deflected goal for Jack Hingert was hollow consolation for the Roar, who succumbed to their fourth loss of the season as Sydney FC kept their two-point lead over Newcastle Jets intact for another week.
Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold expects the FFA Match Review Panel to review Simon's dismissal and the club did not rule out appealing the red card.
"How would you react if you got spat at?" Arnold said.
"Worst case I thought maybe a yellow. Nobody likes to be spat at so I just said to Matty I'm disappointed in him for retaliating in a certain way."
The story, Farcical VAR delay and Avraam Papadopoulos spitting incident mar Sydney FC's win over Brisbane Roar, first appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald.