Hyundai A-League Team of the Week - Round 9

Sydney FC's sensational display in the five-star thumping of Brisbane Roar stole the spotlight in Round 9, but how many Sky Blues make a-league.com.au's Team of the Week?

Let's not forget Perth Glory's commanding display in the 3-0 win against Melbourne Victory on Friday night, or impressive the wins by Wellington Phoenix, Western United and Adelaide United that following in a high-octane round of Hyundai A-League football.

Time to take a look at the line-up, which rolls out in a 4-3-3 formation.

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Goalkeeper

Paul Izzo (Adelaide United)

James Troisi may have been Adelaide's match-winner in the 2-1 win against Newcastle Jets but if it was not for Paul Izzo’s inspired performance, the Reds would have been dead and buried.

Newcastle dominated proceedings in the first half but Ernie Merrick’s side were kept at bay by the agile 24-year-old. His display was highlighted by a miraculous save with his feet to deny Angus Thurgate at close range and stop a certain goal, during a goal-mouth scramble.

Izzo could do little about Matt Millar's headed goal, but he did step up and make superb stops from Millar, Thurgate and Nick Fitzgerald as Newcastle piled forward in the second half. His strong positioning and reactions laid the foundations for Troisi's show-stealing late effort.

WATCH: Izzo recovered quickly to make a heroic save with his legs to deny Angus Thurgate.
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Defenders

Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC)

Although the marauding full-back did not get among the goals, Rhyan Grant was an attacking force in Sydney FC’s 5-1 demolition job against Brisbane Roar.

Grant was involved in much of the Sky Blues’ fast transition play, both with his tenacious running and strong passing game. He linked up well with Alexander Baumjohann and provided a constant wide outlet that allowed Sydney’s German right-sider to drift inside and impact the game to devastating effect.

The Caltex Socceroos starter got his job done defensively, making two clearances and winning nine of 18 duels and three of his four tackles, while putting in five crosses when bombing forward. His finest moment was the through ball which released Kosta Barbarouses to set up Adam Le Fondre's second goal of the day.

WATCH: Grant plays a sensational pass to set Kosta Barbarouses away to assist Adam Le Fondre's second.

Tomislav Mrcela (Perth Glory)

Playing his first minutes of the season after an off-season setback, Tomislav Mrcela slipped right into Tony Popovic’s back three and performed his duties with ease as his side cruised to a 3-0 win over Melbourne City.

His defensive prowess may not have come as a surprise, but even Mrcela may have been left stunned after scoring his first ever Hyundai A-League goal with 20 minutes to play.

Mrcela rose highest in a crowded box to head home an inch-perfect cross from Neil Kilkenny to cap off a phenomenal return to action for the rangy centre half.

WATCH: Mrcela scores with a towering header against Melbourne City

Gregory Wütrich (Perth Glory)

Gregory Wütrich put a blanket over the threat of Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren and kept him virtually sightless for 90 minutes in an authoritative display in the heart of Perth Glory’s defence on Friday night.

Wütrich came up trumps with six clearances and two interceptions on a night where Maclaren couldn’t add to his nine-goal haul for the season as Glory’s Swiss defender kept him goalless for the first time this season.

Gregory Wüthrich
Gregory Wüthrich kept Melbourne City danger man Jamie Maclaren quiet for 90 minutes at AAMI Park.

Liberato Cacace (Wellington Phoenix)

Although Liberato Cacace has switched from playing as a wing-back in a five-man back-line last year, to a left-back in a four-man defence this season, the teenager is making no less impact going forward.

That's not to say he skirts his defensive responsibility. The 19-year-old did an excellent job on Western Sydney, keeping Bruce Kamau silent in the 2-1 win. He won five of his 11 duels and logged three clearances and two interceptions as Wanderers failed to convert their possession into chances against a compact Phoenix backline.

Where Cacace wins his bonus marks is for his attacking threat. He created a joint team-high two chances and got a shot away from inside the Red and Black box in a dangerous performance. He was denied an assist when Daniel Lopar made a superb stop from Callum McCowatt’s six-yard effort.

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Liberato Cacace celebrates with his teammates after Phoenix take a late lead against Western Sydney Wanderers.
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Midfielders

Alexander Baumjohann (Sydney FC)

In a virtuoso performance by Sydney FC’s attacking quartet, Alexander Baumjohann was the chief conductor in the 5-1 win against Brisbane Roar.

Drifting in from the right of midfield, the German artist dictated the flow of the Sky Blues’ relentless attacking threat and was at the core of the majority of the Champions’ best forward play, playing a pivotal role in four of the five goals.

The 32-year-old impressed off the ball, winning seven of his 13 duels, and filled up the stats sheets with three chances created and one assist. But those numbers are an understatement on how significantly he controlled the rhythm of the Sydney orchestra. A masterclass from Baumjohann.

WATCH: Baumjohann got the assist for Trent Buhagiar's strike but played a key role in four of Sydney FC's goals against Roar.

Neil Kilkenny (Perth Glory)

Perth Glory’s prime passer was back to his best against his former side Melbourne City on Friday night.

Kilkenny made a team-high 47 passes at an accuracy of 83% and laid five crosses including the ripping delivery he supplied Mrcela for the third and final goal of the game. The 33-year-old was also involved in the neat corner routine which set up Glory’s second goal just after half time.

The metronomic midfielder leads the league in passes for the season, and with Glory back in form there’s no surprise their little maestro was leading the way.

Neil Kilkenny
The Hyundai A-League's most prolific passer, Neil Kilkenny, ran the show in Glory's dazzling 3-0 win against Melbourne City.

Ulises Davila (Wellington Phoenix)

Ulises Davila showed he had ice in his veins to convert the match-winning 89th minute penalty against Western Sydney, his fourth spot-kick goal of the season, and sixth strike in eight games for the club.

That decisive play was the tip of the iceberg. He earned the penalty by engineering the shooting chance which hit Pirmin Schwegler on the arm, stepping up when Ufuk Talay’s side needed him most. 

The Mexican was Phoenix’s heartbeat against Wanderers. Davila led the team in touches (78), and he led the team back into a game that Wanderers had controlled, but Wellington seized with the match hanging in the balance.

WATCH: Davila shows ice-cold nerves to score an 89th-minute penalty and clinch three points for Phoenix.
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Forwards

Adam Le Fondre (Sydney FC)

Adam Le Fondre shot to the top of the Hyundai A-League Golden Boot standings when a clinical hat-trick made it eight goals in his last five matches, and 10 for the season. 

Brisbane Roar were left shell-shocked by the English marksman's quick-fire double, as Sydney FC tore through their opponents with pace, quality and intelligent movement.

Le Fondre led from the front, dragging Roar's beleaguered back-line all over the Netstrata Jubilee Stadium field in the 5-1 pounding, and capped the night with a close-range header to complete his first treble on Australian soil. His second goal was the pick of the bunch.

WATCH: Le Fondre makes a difficult finish look easy for the second goal of his hat-trick against Brisbane Roar.

Besart Berisha (Western United)

There’s every chance that two games away from Western United’s starting line-up made Besart Berisha even hungrier.

The 34-year-old showcased his strengths by dominating Victory’s defence and scoring a pair of first-half headers in the 3-1 win, one from each of the Green and Black’s wing-backs.

His opener from Connor Pain’s cross overcame a huge mental hurdle, breaking United’s five hour 19 minute-goal drought, to lift his revitalised team against the club where he solidified his legacy. 

His second from Josh Risdon’s delivery was his fifth in eight games this season, and his eighth in nine career matches at GMHBA Stadium. The competition’s all-time top scorer also racked up an unprecedented 121 Hyundai A-League strikes in a commanding display.

WATCH: Berisha was at his lethal best to launch Western United's revival against his old team.

Al Hassan Toure (Adelaide United)

The second teenager in the team of the week shone head and shoulders above most other players on the Coopers Stadium pitch in Adelaide's 2-1 win against the Newcastle Jets.

Not only does Al Hassan Toure have lightning-quick pace and deft close control, but the 19-year-old, who recently penned a new contract in the City of Churches, exudes confidence every time he gets on the ball and delivers an end product.

He left Johnny Koutroumbis in his wake before putting the ball on a silver platter for George Blackwood to add the simplest of tap ins for Adelaide to open the scoring. Another highlight came when he breezed past Lachlan Jackson just after half-time, setting up James Troisi for a shot which cannoned off Blackwood's knee and on to the Jets goal post.

WATCH: Toure's dazzling skills set up George Blackwood to score for Adelaide.
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Round 10 fixtures

Brisbane Roar v Western United
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Kick-off: 6.30pm local, 7.30pm AEDT
Tickets

Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix
Venue: AAMI Park
Kick-off: 4pm AEDT
Tickets

Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 6.30pm AEDT
Tickets

Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers
Venue: HBF Park
Kick-off: 5.45pm local, 8.45pm AEDT
Tickets

Newcastle Jets v Melbourne City
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 6.30pm AEDT
Tickets

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