Hyundai A-League Weekend Wrap - Round 26
The Hyundai A-League Premiers' Plate is down to a race in two after Melbourne and Sydney both recorded wins in the penultimate round of the regular season.
Results - Round 26 MELBOURNE VICTORY 2, North Queensland Fury 0 ADELAIDE UNITED 2, Brisbane Roar 0 SYDNEY FC 3, Perth Glory 2 Gold Coast United 0, WELLINGTON PHOENIX 1
Results - Round 25 NORTH QUEENSLAND FURY 2, Newcastle Jets 1
Game Wraps The Hyundai A-League Premiers' Plate is down to a race in two after Melbourne and Sydney both recorded wins in the penultimate round of the regular season, while Gold Coast slipped up.
The race for the first trophy of the season, and the Asian Champions League spot which comes with it, will come down to Sunday's clash between Sydney and Melbourne at the SFS after Gold Coast's shock loss to Wellington left it unable to finish top.
United can still finish second, however, should Melbourne defeat Sydney and it edges out North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday night.
Melbourne still looks the team most likely to win its third Premiership in four years after its 2-0 win over North Queensland has it two points clear of Sydney. It means a draw in that match at the SFS is good enough for Victory to win.
Carlos Hernandez powered an under-manned Melbourne to its win over the Fury with a goal in each half. The first was from open play late in the first half, while at the midway point of the second half, he secured the win with a fabulous free kick.
Sydney staked its claim after a few nervous moments against Perth on Sunday. A Steve Corica penalty was cancelled out by a well-taken effort from Wayne Srhoj in the first half before John Aloisi stamped himself on the game.
In the 48th minute, Aloisi struck a low shot which appeared to be cleared off the line by Chris Coyne, but as it turned out, Coyne's clearance went through a hole in the side of the net. It was eventually ruled a goal by referee Chris Beath.
Daniel McBreen looked to have rescued a point for the Glory in the 79th minute when he ducked in for his fifth goal in four games, but Aloisi settled it with a header in the 87th minute, keeping Sydney's hopes of a first-ever premiership alive.
That win looked all the more important when Wellington caused a massive upset at Skilled Park. There was only one goal in the game, a penalty won by Tim Brown and converted by Paul Ifill.
As well as dealing a fatal blow to Gold Coast's hopes of finishing top, Wellington boosted its hopes of finishing fourth and grabbing a home final in the first week. The Phoenix are now above Perth and will go into the final round with fourth place at their mercy with a home match against the Mariners to come on Friday.
The other completed Round 26 match saw Adelaide record its first win in eight weeks, 2-0 over Brisbane thanks to goals from Lucas Pantelis and Fabian Barbiero.
The F3 derby between Newcastle and Central Coast was postponed until Monday night because of the state of the Bluetongue Stadium pitch.
It is the second match in the week where the Jets have had a match put back. Their postponed Round 25 match in Townsville ended 2-1 in the Fury's favour last Tuesday.
Weekend Goals Tally: 10
Attendances (total / average): 43531/10882
Goal of the Week - Carlos Hernandez Hernandez scored a couple of great goals against North Queensland, but his second was the better of the two. It was a vintage free kick from the Costa Rican, curling the ball over the wall and into the net for yet another contender for goal of the year.
Player of the Week - John Aloisi Sydney FC's marquee man is back in his best form at the business end of the season. After a season where he has struggled for regular game time, Aloisi has found his range in front of the goals. He scored two against Perth in what was a vital win, one with the foot and one with the head. He looms as a major player in the finals.
One to Watch - Liam Reddy Reddy has ridden the rollercoaster this season, leaving Brisbane and taking up the spot between the posts at Wellington when Mark Paston was injured. After taking a couple of weeks to settle in to his new surrounds, the veteran is back to his best, pulling off a couple of fantastic saves against Gold Coast on the weekend. He is a vital cog in Wellington's title charge.
Leading Goalscorers After Round 26
19 - Shane SMELTZ
12 - Carlos HERNANDEZ
11 - Sergio VAN DIJK
10 - Paul IFILL, Archie THOMPSON
9 - Robbie FOWLER
8 - John ALOISI, Daniel MCBREEN
7 - Steve CORICA, Mile STERJOVSKI, Matt THOMPSON
6 - John ALOISI, Mark BRIDGE, Michael BRIDGES, Alex BROSQUE, Nik MRDJA, Matt SIMON
5 - Tim BROWN, Dyron DAAL, Chris GREENACRE, Labinot HALITI, Branko JELIC, REINALDO
4 - Travis DODD, Robbie KRUSE, Kevin MUSCAT, Lucas PANTELIS, Joel PORTER, Victor SIKORA, Wayne SRHOJ, Jin-Hyung SONG
3 - CRISTIANO, Jason CULINA, Eugene DADI, Rostyn GRIFFITHS, HENRIQUE, Jamie HARNWELL, John HUTCHINSON, Adam KWASNIK, Nicky TRAVIS
2 - Fabian BARBIERO, Leo BERTOS, Pedj BOJIC, Jacob BURNS, CASSIO, DANIEL CORTES, Luke DEVERE, Mate DUGANDZIC, Steven FITZSIMMONS, Chris GROSSMAN, Jason HOFFMAN, Todd HOWARTH, Matthew KEMP, Mathew LECKIE, Adrian LEIJER, Jon McKAIN, Matt McKAY, Charlie MILLER, Adriano PELLEGRINO, Sasho PETROVSKI, Tomislav PONDELJAK, Kristian REES, Sean ROONEY, Nick WARD, Jobe WHEELHOUSE, David WILLIAMS
1 - ALEMAO, Danny ALLSOPP, Costa BARBAROUSES, Andrew BARISIC, Nigel BOOGAARD, Grant BREBNER, Jeremy BROCKIE, James BROWN, Scott BULLOCH, Zenon CARAVELLA, Isaka CERNAK, Kofi DANNING, David DODD, Ahmad ELRICH, Ney FABIANO, Iain FYFE, Brendan GAN, Troy HEARFIELD, Dean HEFFERNAN, Adam HUGHES, Andrija JUKIC, Karol KISEL, Dylan MACALLISTER, Terry McFLYNN, Michael MCGLINCHEY, Tahj MINNIECON, MILSON, Craig MOORE, Stuart MUSIALIK, Jason NAIDOVSKI, Mitch NICHOLS, Tommy OAR, Lloyd OWUSU, Chris PAYNE, Naum SEKULOVSKI, Ben SIGMUND, John TAMBOURAS, Chris TADROSSE, Danny TIATTO, Rodrigo VARGAS, Alex WILKINSON