Hyundai A-League Team of the Week - Round 11

Two international stars helped fire Melbourne Victory's season in a derby win, Wellington Phoenix's new midfield battler impressed again, and Perth Glory's attackers stole the show. 

It was another huge weekend of Hyundai A-League action to get the festive season in full swing as 20 goals flew in across five games of action. Who were the standout performers?

We've assessed a stacked line of contenders and opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation. 

Disagree with our selections? Make sure to let us know on Twitter!

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Goalkeeper

Mark Birighitti (Central Coast Mariners)

The former Newcastle Jet is proving to be an astute addition to Alen Stajcic's resilient Mariners.

Birighitti commanded his area expertly, particularly as Adelaide threw numbers forward in search of a late equaliser, and made two good stops from Nathan Konstandopoulos and Ben Halloran. Could do nothing about Halloran's stunning reply after the interval.

NEWS: Merrick does not expect to add signings to threadbare Jets squad
NEWS: ‘We failed’ - Mombaerts fumes about City’s lack of Derby intensity
NEWS: Corica admits using Sydney FC super sub Ninkovic was not the plan

Defenders

Anthony Lesiotis (Melbourne Victory)

Victory were under the pump heading into Saturday's Melbourne derby. In particular, the spotlight was on Anthony Lesiotis, but he dealt with that pressure very impressively. 

Not only did the 19-year-old turn in a disciplined, energetic and committed performance against a free-flowing City attack, but the nominal midfielder did so from a right back position still somewhat unfamiliar to the teenager. Four tackles, nine duels, two clearances and two interceptions highlight his industry. 

Anthony Lesiotis


Tim Hoogland (Melbourne Victory)

Marco Kurz said the introduction of fit-again Hoogland would stabilise a shaky Victory defence for Saturday's derby challenge against high-flying City. It was a test the German passed with flying colours.

Hoogland was an outstanding presence at the back for the Navy Blue, his experience of playing 50-odd Bundesliga games most apparent at AAMI Park. In-form City striker Maclaren barely had a sniff. "He made the boys around him confident," hailed Kurz after the game.

Tim Hoogland


Brendan Hamill (Western United)

United's come from behind point against the Wanderers on Friday was another resilient showing from the new boys, and one in which Hamill shone.

Hamill made a match-high eight clearances as the visitors stuck in their heels, and won six of his seven duels. Back to back 90 minute performances for the first time in United colours for the former Western Sydney captain.


Connor Pain (Western United)

On a night where the Hyundai A-League newcomers dug deep defensively to earn a point, it was left-back Pain who provided the one moment of quality going forward to secure United a late equaliser.

Mark Rudan's side did not show an enormous amount of attacking adventure throughout the 90 minutes of their 1-1 draw with Western Sydney but always look a threat with Pain on the overlap. At Bankwest Stadium, the former Mariner created two chances - including a gilt-edged opportunity for Panagiotis Kone in the second minute, and the assist for Aaron Calver's 87th minute equaliser. 

NEWS: Another Western United recovery illustrates team's character says Rudan
REPORT: Late Calver equaliser piles more frustration on Wanderers

 

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Midfielders

Cameron Devlin (Wellington Phoenix)

The 21-year-old midfielder rose to the challenge of facing his former club with a tireless display in the heart of the 'Nix formation in their draw with Sydney FC.

Taking on the likes of Alex Baumjohann, Luke Brattan, and Milos Ninkovic, Devlin more than equalled the contributions of the Sky Blues' pedigreed playmakers with his tenacity and box-to-box work rate.

The stats backed up his contributions both on and off the ball - leading his side's returns with 107 touches, 90 passes, 12 won duels and four tackles won.

NEWS: Talay refuses to blame Davila after horror miss against Sydney FC
REPORT: Taylor own goal spares Sydney in breathless draw with Phoenix

Cameron Devlin


Neil Kilkenny (Perth Glory)

The attackers in front of him made the headlines but Kilkenny was the unsung hero of Glory's 6-2 demolition of Newcastle. 

Typically snappy in the challenge and near-faultless in possession, Kilkenny offered a midfield masterclass which left Jets players chasing shadows and dispatched a first-half penalty which sent Tony Popovic's men on their way to a resounding victory. 

Neil Kilkenny


Diego Castro (Perth Glory)

Saturday's thrashing of the Jets was Castro at his imperious, untouchable best.

Castro opened the scoring with a perfectly-placed free-kick, picked up a pair of assists for Fornaroli's brace, and added a superb sixth late on to crown what was arguably the best performance of the Hyundai A-League season. 

REPORT: Fornaroli and Castro lead Perth's six-goal rout of Newcastle

 

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Forwards

Reno Piscopo (Wellington Phoenix)

A maiden Hyundai A-League goal and an assist in a toe-to-toe performance against league-leaders Sydney FC - it’s little surprise the 21-year-old right winger is amongst the round's stand-outs, and earns a spot on the right of our attacking trio.

High positional rotation in the Phoenix attacking third was key to unlocking the defending Champions and Piscopo showed he is equally adept high and wide on the right flank or finding space inside the fullbacks.

His delayed run into the box was perfectly timed to meet David Ball's squaring ball for the opening goal that pulled his side level. While his classy cross at full clip from the right set-up Ulises Dávila for his side's second.


Ola Toivonen (Melbourne Victory)

The Victory's talisman was at his dominating best with a match-winning brace in the Melbourne derby that lifted his season's tally to seven goals.

The big Swede's got the ball rolling for his side by breaking free at the back post to head home the opener in the 15th minute. He then further showcased his positional instinct to capitalise on a deflection to tap in immediately prior to half-time.

His fiercely competitive nature was on display throughout a typically hard-fought derby - revealing post-match that he had carried a hip injury into the match, that forced his exit from the contest shortly after the hour.

NEWS: Toivonen reveals match-winning brace came in spite of injury
REPORT: Toivonen hits double as Victory ignite season with derby win


Bruno Fornaroli (Perth Glory)

After a reasonably steady start in WA, it appears the lethal Uruguayan is getting back to his mercurial best. 

Fornaroli notched a double in his side's ruthless display against Newcastle. He was fortunate with the deflected first, but the second - a trademark shuffle on the edge of the box and powerful finish with his left foot - demonstrated the Glory man is finding his radar again. 

 

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