Hyundai A-League Weekend Wrap - Round 23
Gold Coast has ascended to the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder with a 1-0 win over Sydney, while Melbourne has moved within striking range of the premiership battle with an emphatic success over Perth.
Results - Round 23 WELLINGTON PHOENIX 3, North Queensland Fury 0 Adelaide United 1, Central Coast Mariners 1 MELBOURNE VICTORY 6, Perth Glory 2 Brisbane Roar 0, NEWCASTLE JETS 2 Sydney FC 0, GOLD COAST UNITED 1
Results - Round 19 GOLD COAST UNITED 2 Newcastle Jets 0
Game Wraps Gold Coast has ascended to the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder with a 1-0 win over Sydney, while Melbourne has moved within striking range of the premiership battle with an emphatic success over Perth.
Just two points now separate the top three after Round 23, with Melbourne having played a game fewer than its rivals.
The top-of-the-table clash between Sydney and Gold Coast saw United prevail for the third time in as many games against the Sky Blues with Joel Porter scoring in the 19th minute. It was the first time in over eight hours that Sydney's defence had been breached and despite several chances the Sky Blues relinquished top spot.
Melbourne powered back to form on the back of a stunning 6-2 win over Perth at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
In the second-highest scoring Hyundai A-League match in history, Robbie Kruse scored a first-half hat-trick, while Archie Thompson, Carlos Hernandez and Kevin Muscat all got their names on the scoresheet in an extraordinary match. Rody Vargas scored an own goal and Mile Sterjovski added the other for Perth, which remains in sixth, but is in a struggle to make the finals.
Newcastle and Wellington both took giant steps in terms of their finals prospects with excellent wins. Wellington hosted North Queensland and overpowered the Fury with three goals in the second half.
Eugene Dadi scored his third goal in his second game for the club, while Paul Ifill and Jon McKain added the others as the Phoenix closed in on an historic finals appearance. They are now five points clear of seventh with five matches remaining.
Newcastle travelled to Brisbane and prevailed 2-0 thanks to goals from Matt Thompson and the evergreen Michael Bridges. The Jets look poised for post-season action, but the Roar, having lost three in a row, have slipped back to eighth.
The other match saw Adelaide and Central Coast share the points on Friday night. Nik Mrdja put the Mariners ahead before Travis Dodd scored his second goal in as many matches to square the ledger at 1-1.
Gold Coast and Newcastle played their Round 19 match last Wednesday with United getting the points 2-0 thanks to goals from Jason Culina and James Brown.
Weekend Goals Tally: 16
Attendances (total / average): 59983/11997
Goal of the Week - Robbie Kruse The Melbourne striker scored three on Saturday night, but one stood out, not for the quality of the strike, but the class of the build-up. Nick Ward started the forward thrust with a long cross-field pass which found Archie Thompson. Thompson flicked the ball onto Tom Pondeljak, who delivered the perfect cross. Kruse was there to slot the ball home from the angle and one of the best team goals of the year was completed.
Player of the Week - Zenon Caravella While much has been made of Jason Culina's contribution to Gold Coast this year, Caravella has largely flown under the radar. But against the top side on Sunday, he produced a fantastic performance in both attack and defence to help his side to the top of the table once again.
One to Watch - Robbie Kruse Kruse's first-half hat-trick was a coming of age for the young striker according to Ernie Merrick, who has moved him to a more central role since coming to the club in September. Kruse played the role of poacher perfectly, capitalising on two Perth mistakes and finishing off some fine team-work for the other goal. As good as Archie Thompson is, he needs a back-up and Kruse will be vital to Melbourne's hopes of defending their premiership and championship.
Leading Goalscorers After Round 23 19 - Shane Smeltz 10 - Sergio Van Dijk 9 - Robbie Fowler, Paul Ifill, Archie Thompson, Carlos Hernandez 7 - Mile Sterjovski 6 - Mark Bridge, Michael Bridges, Alex Brosque, Steve Corica, Matt Simon, Matt Thompson 5 - John Aloisi, Tim Brown, Dyron Daal, Chris Greenacre, Labinot Haliti, Branko Jelic, Nik Mrdja, Reinaldo 4 - Robbie Kruse, Victor Sikora, Jin-Hyung Song 3 - Cristiano, Jason Culina, Eugene Dadi, Travis Dodd, Rostyn Griffiths, Henrique, Jamie Harnwell, John Hutchinson, Daniel Mcbreen, Kevin Muscat, Lucas Pantelis, Joel Porter, Wayne Srhoj, Nicky Travis 2 - Leo Bertos, Pedj Bojic, Cassio, Daniel Cortes, Mate Dugandzic, Steven Fitzsimmons, Jason Hoffman, Adam Kwasnik, Matthew Leckie, Adrian Leijer, Matt Mckay, Charlie Miller, Adriano Pellegrino, Sasho Petrovski, Kristian Rees, Sean Rooney, Nick Ward 1 - Alemao, Danny Allsopp, Costa Barbarouses, Fabian Barbiero, Andrew Barisic, Nigel Boogaard, Grant Brebner, Jeremy Brockie, James Brown, Scott Bulloch, Isaka Cernak, Kofi Danning, Luke Devere, David Dodd, Ahmad Elrich, Ney Fabiano, Iain Fyfe, Brendan Gan, Chris Grossman, Troy Hearfield, Dean Heffernan, Todd Howarth, Adam Hughes, Matthew Kemp, Karol Kisel, Dylan Macallister, Terry Mcflynn, Michael Mcglinchey, Jon Mckain, Tahj Minniecon, Milson, Craig Moore, Jason Naidovski, Mitch Nichols, Tommy Oar, Lloyd Owusu, Tomislav Pondeljak, Naum Sekulovski, Ben Sigmund, John Tambouras, Danny Tiatto, Rodrigo Vargas, Jobe Wheelhouse, Alex Wilkinson, David Williams