Hyundai A-League Team of the Week - Round 19

Wellington Phoenix claimed victory in the battle of Hyundai A-League big hitters against second-placed Melbourne City to headline Round 19. So how many ‘Nix players made the best XI?

The Kiwi club's stars have competition from an impressive Adelaide United performance in the 2-0 victory against Central Coast Mariners on Friday night, while Western Sydney Wanderers and Newcastle Jets slogged it out to keep their season's alive in a 1-1 draw on Saturday night.

The round wrapped up with Brisbane Roar taking a crucial win in a close-contest with Hyundai A-League Finals Series rivals Western United on Sunday.

Read on to find out who made it in our 4-3-3 formation.

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Goalkeeper

Stefan Marinovic (Wellington Phoenix)

An inspiring presence in between the posts for the Phoenix this season, All Whites 'keeper Marinovic had to be at this best in Wellington's 1-0 win over Melbourne City on Saturday evening.

The Phoenix shot-stopper produced seven saves on the night (only three goalkeepers have made more in a game this season) to help Ufuk Talay's side to a vital three points over their fellow top four rivals.

It was only the club's third clean sheet of the campaign.

 

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Defenders

Matt Millar (Newcastle Jets)

New Jets boss Carl Robinson would have been mightily impressed by Matthew Millar's performance in Saturday's 1-1 draw against the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Millar and his defensive colleagues were under the pump early on but showed excellent character to fight back, and the rampaging full-back was often the source of inspiration.

Millar was the first to truly test Wanderers 'keeper Daniel Lopar late in the first half. The right wing-back's crossing had the hosts in all sorts, and he came up with the equaliser that his and Newcastle's endeavour deserved. 


Luke DeVere (Wellington Phoenix)

Alongside central defensive partner Steven Taylor, DeVere led by example in Wellington's edgy 1-0 win against City. 

Erick Mombaerts' visitors had scored 16 goals in their previous eight Hyundai A-League matches on the road but fired a blank at Auckland's Eden Park. DeVere contained Jamie Maclaren with relative comfort, an experienced display included five clearances and six duels won. 

Luke DeVere


Michael Jakobsen (Adelaide United)

While the 2-0 scoreline reads as a relatively comfortable result for Adelaide United, the reality against Central Coast Mariners was not as straightforward.

Alen Stajcic's side had the Reds on their heels on Friday night, but Adelaide were able to hold firm thanks to an inspiring display from the skipper.

Jakobsen and Jordan Elsey produced some excellent last-ditch defending in the second half, with the Denmark international winning all five of his duels, making six clearances, and winning four interceptions. 


Liberato Cacace (Wellington Phoenix)

Phoenix's result against Melbourne City was a win built on defence and Cacace delivered a strong, reliable display with the ball and without. 

The Kiwi flyer is consistently one of Wellington's key outlets and the teenager performs as a playmaker from left-back. Against City, he had the second most touches of any ‘Nix player (96). 

But this week, it was in defence where Cacace shone. He won eight duels, the joint highest on the team, and recorded three tackles and five clearances, while shutting down a top class attacker in Markel Susaeta. 

Liberato Cacace

 

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Midfielders

Riley McGree (Adelaide United)

Mohamed Toure wrote the headlines on Friday night but it was another Adelaide boy, Riley McGree, who proved just as decisive in turning the tide against Central Coast Mariners.

McGree's sensational cutback was turned home by the 15-year-old Toure to give Gertjan Verbeek's side a two-goal buffer, seconds after the Australian youth international teed up George Blackwood to bend in an unstoppable opening goal. 

Two assists for McGree on a night the Gawler-born prodigy created a game-high five chances. 


Matti Steinmann (Wellington Phoenix)

You have to feel for Alex Rufer. How does the young Kiwi vice-captain win his spot back in Ufuk Talay's starting XI given how well Cameron Devlin and Steinmann are performing as the Phoenix's midfield duo?

Devlin and Steinmann have struck up one of the Hyundai A-League's best combinations in that area of the field and, against City, it was the German who shone brightest. He had a goal chalked off in the first half, won all three of his tackles, helped stifle City playmakers Adrian Luna and Florin Berenguer and set the tone for big win for the Phoenix. 

Matti Steinmann


Aiden O’Neill (Brisbane Roar)

O’Neill was handed a start in the Roar midfield and took the opportunity with both hands in the 1-0 win against Western United. The 21-year-old last started in the 1-1 draw against Newcastle Jets in December but stepped up his game in Ballarat to stifle Western United’s offence and provide a protective shield for the Roar backline.

Only Jay O'Shea had more touches for the Queenslanders (76), and  O'Neill recorded the team's best pass completion rate (89%) in an energetic display, which included three tackles and five duels won.

Italian maestro Alessandro Diamanti came on to cause Brisbane some problems after half-time but O’Neill used the change in tempo to surge forward, almost adding to the score in an impressive performance in defence and attack.

 

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Forwards

Mohamed Toure (Adelaide United)

Toure played just 13 minutes against the Mariners but changed the course of the game. 

Adelaide had been frustrated by the visitors but the 15-year-old's arrival sparked the Reds into life, with his lively charge through the centre of the pitch helping Blackwood strike the opener.

Seconds later, the striker became the youngest goalscorer in Hyundai A-League history by burying McGree's delicious cutback, aged just 15 years and 325 days. 


Gary Hooper (Wellington Phoenix)

Traditionally Hooper has operated throughout his career as a target man, but the burly Englishman showed his versatility, dropping short, offering an option to his midfielders and linking up with frontman David Ball.

It was a moment of quality from Hooper which forced the break through, when the big man drifted wide, charged forward and picked out the run of Ball with a precision pass to assist the winning goal.

His performance was summed up in the 89th-minute when he harassed the City defence into giving away a late corner – even more impressive given this was only his second full 90 minutes after rebuilding his match fitness for the Hyundai A-League.


Mitchell Duke (Western Sydney Wanderers)

Duke cut a figure of resignation after the Wanderers dropped more points at home on Saturday, this time in their 1-1 stalemate with Newcastle. 

There wasn't much more the club captain could have done to help get the struggling Wanderers over the line. He opened accounts with a crisply finished penalty, hit the post minutes later and drove his side forward at every turn. 

 

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