After impressive, morale boosting wins, the Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Heart dominate the Hyundai A-League Round 15 Team of the Week.
Player of the week:
Mate Duganzdic:The Heart wide man played a major role in engineering his team-s first win of the season. After falling a goal behind early, Duganzdic-s first goal gave Melbourne the lead in the shadows of half time. After the break, Duganzdic made sure of all three points, when he finished coolly after being released by Iain Ramsey.
Ante Covic:The Wanderers goalkeeper continued his magnificent form this season, keeping a rampant Adelaide attack at bay for large parts of the fixture. Desperate to give his side a chance of earning a share of the points, Covic produced several fine saves, highlighted by a diving stop from Jeronimo late in the second half.
Michael Boxall:Heading into the fixture against the Victory, many pundits thought a key battle would be between Boxall and the dynamic attacking duo of Archie Thompson and Kosta Barbarouses. After the match, there was no doubt about the victor, with Boxall claiming the spoils handsomely. The muscular defender limited the duo to a handful of chances, in a performance that more than justifies his contract extension that he was given last week.
Matt Smith: The Roar skipper has been a mainstay in the A-League-s stingiest defence. This record would be put to the test by Perth, especially after the dismissal of Besart Berisha, which left the Roar a player short for 60 minutes. Smith, took it upon himself to keep the clean sheet, and limited the home side to a pair of shots on target for the whole game.
Osama Malik: Playing in a reformed defensive line, Malik has been a crucial plank in Adelaide-s recent revival. Sunday-s clean sheet was a fourth in six games for United, which has enabled a sharp rise up the ladder. Despite the Wanderers having a strike force including Tomi Juric and Shinji Ono, Adelaide always looked likely to maintain their one goal lead, with Malik providing a formidable road block.
Tarek Elrich: Playing in the unfamiliar role of left back, Elrich kept former teammate Youssouf Hersi at bay, nullifying one of the Wanderers most potent attacking options. His defensive positioning was vital in allowing Michael Zullo and Awer Mabil to bomb forward at will.
Kenny Cunningham: The Costa Rican international has proved a hit in Season 9 of the A-League with his attacking instinct. With a keen eye for goal, Cunningham lodged his contender for Goal of The Season with a phenomenal dipping strike that left Nathan Coe with no chance.
Albert Riera: After signing a contract extension with the club during the week, Riera produced his best performance in a Phoenix shirt. Playing as a holding midfielder, Riera broke up many Melbourne attacks through interceptions and timely tackles. His presence allowed Kenny Cunningham and Carlos Hernandez to roam further forward up the field.
Carlos Hernandez: Playing against his former team, Hernandez was always going to be an influential figure in the contest. Fortunately for Phoenix fans, he was sensational scoring a brace in Wellington-s fourth win in five matches. The Costa Rican opened the scoring from close range after good lead up work from Tyler Boyd, before he doubled his tally from the penalty spot.
Thomas Broich:Despite Brisbane playing for an hour with 10 players, they were the dominant side in the 0-0 draw against Perth. Broich was at the heart of everything good for the Roar, playing many balls into the area that teammates should have made better use of. Despite struggling with a calf complaint, Broich played the full 90 minutes in an ominous performance for the rest of the competition.
Harry Kewell: In a performance that turned back the clock, the Heart skipper was crucial in ensuring his team gained their first three points of the season. In the early exchanges, Kewell was a one man army, laying siege to Mark Birighitti-s goal on several occasions from long range. Kewell had the final touch, a headed knockdown, in the lead up to Ramsey-s opening strike. If Kewell can continue these performances, he could yet be on the plane to Brazil.