Hyundai A-League Team of the Week: Round 16

Who stood head and shoulders above the rest in Round 16 of the Hyundai A-League?

We've assessed the contenders and gone with a 4-3-3 formation to accommodate the weekend's best performers.

Agree with our selections? Let us know!

ROUND 16: Keogh and Kilkenny on target as Glory rediscover mojo against Newcastle
ROUND 16: Blackwood hits stoppage-time winner to break Central Coast hearts
ROUND 16: Toivonen’s sublime free-kick sparks Victory to claim Big Blue bragging rights
ROUND 16: Williams strike and Kurto heroics lead Phoenix to tense win over City
ROUND 16: Taggart steals Brisbane a point in stunning injury-time heist
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Goalkeeper

Filip Kurto (Wellington Phoenix)

A contender for best goalkeeping performance of the season. Following a first half where the eccentric Polish net-minder was barely tested, Kurto was called upon to make a series of game-saving blocks as Melbourne City came to life in the second stanza.

The 27-year-old denied City six times in total, including two stops from thunderous Riley McGree efforts. He palmed away Kearyn Baccus' close-range strike and spread his body into a roadblock when Ramy Najjarine was through on goal. This was a clean sheet which Kurto can take much of the praise for.

Defenders

Ryan Strain (Adelaide United)

Another barnstorming performer from the opposite side of defence has cruelly denied Scott Galloway a place in Round 16's team of the week, but fellow Adelaide United fullback Ryan Strain boasts a similarly strong claim.

Strain was a threat from right back in Adelaide's gutsy 2-1 win over Central Coast Mariners, highlighted by a remarkable surge forward from deep late in the first half which drew penalty appeals from the Reds.

A consistently excellent performer for Marco Kurz this season, Strain's diligence was again on show at Coopers Stadium, where he won a game high 13 duels.


Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix)

The veteran stopper posted a flawless display to help quell the Melbourne City second-half onslaught, racking up three tackles, six duels won, four clearances and a team-high three interceptions.

Durante's defensive highlight was when Riley McGree sprung free on goal from half-way, leaving Louis Fenton in his wake, but the 36-year-old tracked back to make the block on the City speedster's effort.

He made an impact in possession as well, showing good vision to launch a number of counter attacks, including when Fenton broke free on the right but the wing-back could not pick the correct pass to find an unmarked Sarpreet Singh. 

Wellington Phoenix celebrate


Thomas Deng (Melbourne Victory)

Deng was a colossus as Victory held on to a third-straight Big Blue triumph over Sydney FC. The 21-year-old patrolled his penalty area like a veteran stopper and clocked up a monstrous 10 clearances, double that of any other player in the team.

After Victory had shut down the Sky Blues' spirited comeback effort, goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas revealed Deng cut a solemn figure in home sheds pre-match. Clearly affected by the tragic news of the death of his close friend Awer Mabil's sister, Bor, less than 24 hours earlier, the young defender deserves even more credit for such a composed performance in such heart-breaking circumstances.  

Thomas Deng


Liberato Cacace (Wellington Phoenix)

One of the duels of Phoenix's clash with City was tenacious left wing-back Liberato Cacace up against speedy Melbourne right-back Nathaniel Atkinson - but there really was only one winner.

Cacace tore Atkinson to shreds in a devastating first-half display which saw him assist David Williams' opener, set up Williams for an identical chance which flew over the crossbar and almost drop a looping cross into the far corner of Eugene Galekovic's goal.

Another teenager in the Phoenix ranks, Cacace had far more defending to do in the second half but stuck to his task impressively. He ended up leading the team in tackles (six) when facing with the rampaging Atkinson flying forward on the City right.   

Midfielders

Milos Ninkovic (Sydney FC)

The Serbian playmaker was on a one-man crusade to drag Sydney FC back into the Big Blue after the Sky Blues fell behind early on. In the absence of marquee man Siem de Jong, Ninkovic carried the rest of the team on his shoulders as they attacked in search of a route back into the game.

It was Ninkovic's own determination which earned him his goal, following up on his own strike and converting the rebound to set up a grandstand finish. He admitted post-match that playing three days after an away game in Wellington may have affected his performance. As Sydney's most dangerous player, who also put in a hell of a defensive shift, it was not easy to tell. 


Sarpreet Singh (Wellington Phoenix)

Wellington Phoenix delivered arguably their finest attacking performance of the season against Melbourne City and Sarpreet Singh was at the heart of it. The 19-year-old showed maturity beyond his years as he orchestrated Phoenix's attacking patterns, leading the team in touches.

Aided by the relentless running of Roy Krishna and David Williams, Singh was the catalyst to launch the Nix's forward play. He may act as the key link player to collect the ball from defenders but his off-the-ball contributions cannot be ignored. Singh was also tough in the tackle and combative in the air as Wellington were pinned back in the second half.

Singh


Neil Kilkenny (Perth Glory)

Perth Glory's midfield general has been a class above this season, and has surely been among the best players so far this campaign.

Again the heartbeat of Tony Popovic's side in their 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets, Kilkenny kept things moving for Glory. He was also the architect of Andy Keogh's opener thanks to a gorgeous clipped through ball for Diego Castro.

And to top off another excellent display, Kilkenny struck a wonderful curling goal early in the second to help Glory retain their advantage at the summit.

Forwards

Diego Castro (Perth Glory) 

This was El Maestro at his near unplayable best.

Injury and fitness struggles have restricted Castro's influence so far this season, but the Spanish wizard is truly coming into his own now - evidenced by his terrific display against the Jets.

Castro teed up Andy Keogh the opener with a gorgeous touch and pass and created five scoring chances in total, the most he's made in a single match since January 2018.


Adam Taggart (Brisbane Roar)

Taggart was the chief architect of Brisbane's incredible stoppage-time comeback against Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday evening.

He was ostracised for much of the encounter, but teed up Tobias Mikkelsen's first with a gorgeous backheel before stealing Roar a point with an emphatically dispatched header in the last action of the game.


Ola Toivonen (Melbourne Victory)

Beauty and the beast. Two touches summed up how Ola Toivonen turned the game in Melbourne Victory's favour as the 2017/18 Champions triumphed against Sydney FC.

Firstly, a perfectly executed 25-yard free-kick showed the Swedish marquee man's class to open the scoring in the first half. Secondly, Toivonen used his strength and guile to overpower Ben Warland and fire up the move which James Troisi finished to double Victory's lead.

He showed his combative side by engaging in a fierce battle with Alex Wilkinson and, although Toivonen was isolated at times, he proved his value by almost single-handedly deciding the result of the Big Blue.