A-League: HAL 8 (2012 - 2013 Season)
Round 17 Review
Jeremy Ruane
(with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com)

'Del Piero Shines As Things Tighten At Top'

A four-goal haul from Sydney FC’s Alessandro Del Piero was the outstanding individual highlight of seventeenth round action in the Hyundai A-League this weekend, as the situation at the top of the table tightened still further.

Melbourne Heart kicked off the weekend’s action by upsetting Adelaide United 2-0, thanks to goals inside the first five minutes of each half from Josip Tadic and Richard Garcia at AAMI Park.

7,181 fans witnessed a match in which second-placed Adelaide lost ground to leaders Central Coast Mariners, who fought out a scoreless draw with Newcastle Jets at Bluetongue Stadium twenty-four hours later.

The F3 derby was watched by 11,249 fans, and they stood as one to applaud a stunning save by visiting goalkeeper Mark Birighitti five minutes before half-time, the custodian’s full-length fingertip denial preventing Michael McGlinchey from capping off a dazzling run through four challenges in the manner his effort merited.

Those results allowed Melbourne Victory to close on the top two, and they did so courtesy a Scott Jamieson own goal as the visitors prevailed 1-0 at Perth Glory, where the 7,603 fans present at NIB Stadium saw the home team reduced to ten men half-way through the second spell, Josh Risdon the culprit for committing two bookable offences.

Perth hit the crossbar twice during the match, Dean Heffernan and Ryo Nagai the players to be denied by the woodwork as the home side enjoyed the better of the exchanges. But it was Melbourne who returned home with the spoils, and they’re now five points off the top with ten rounds remaining.

Hard on their heels are league newcomers Western Sydney Wanderers, who came from behind to down Brisbane Roar 2-1 at Suncorp Stadium in the lone Sunday fixture.

Mitch Nichols gave the home team the advantage half-way through the first half as the reigning champions looked to reverse the formbook, the visitors having won the other two clashes between the clubs this season.

Brisbane retained that advantage until just past the hour mark, when two goals in four minutes from Mark Bridge and Youssouf Hersi turned things around in remarkable fashion. Western Sydney then kept the title-holders at arm’s length throughout the time remaining to close to within two wins of top spot.

All these results, however, paled in comparison with Sydney’s swashbuckling 7-1 walloping of Wellington in front of 12,691 fans at the Allianz Stadium, a quite remarkable match given that the visitors, had they taken their chances, could easily have scored just as many goals themselves.

But they paid the price for neglecting their defensive duties, and effectively afforded Del Piero the freedom of the football pitch, something which the Italian took full advantage of, much to Wellington’s despair.

In the eleventh minute, the playmaker set up new Sydney signing Joel Griffiths for the opening goal with a gem of a pass from half-way. And soon after Rhyan Grant had been denied a goal by the offside flag, Del Piero doubled Sydney’s lead with a delightful shot on the turn in the twentieth minute.

Within six minutes, the home team had doubled their lead, Del Piero putting away a controversial penalty before having a hand in a move which Jason Culina finished off in sumptuous fashion.

Despite the scoreline, Wellington kept pressing, but they simply couldn’t buy a goal, unlike Del Piero, who dipped into his box of tricks once more six minutes before half-time and conjured up a cracking strike for his hat-trick.

There was no way back for Wellington, given they were five goals down at the break, and Del Piero confirmed the fact twenty minutes from time with his fourth goal of the game - he really was in imperious form throughout his time on the park.

Before his departure, Ben Sigmund headed home a consolation goal for Wellington, but the final word belonged to the home team, Sydney substitutes Yairo Yau and Blake Powell combining for the former to wrap up an emphatic 7-1 win in stylish fashion, one which lifted the victors into seventh spot, and well into play-off contention.

Next weekend’s action kicks off on Friday night with the clash of the league’s top two teams at Bluetongue Stadium - yes, it’s Central Coast against Adelaide, a match which the visitors probably need to win more than their hosts.

Saturday sees another triple-header taking place, with Melbourne Victory’s clash with Sydney at AAMI Park kicking off the night’s action. Western Sydney and Melbourne Heart draw swords at Parramatta Stadium, while Perth welcome Brisbane to NIB Stadium to conclude the weekend’s action on West Island.

The clash between Wellington and Newcastle takes place at Westpac Stadium on Sunday, and will be Ricki Herbert’s 150th game in charge of the home team, who, while bottom, are still only five points away from fifth place - an indication of how important it is for those teams in the bottom half of the table to start stringing together a run of form which will ensure their season extends beyond the end of March.

Details: Hyundai A-League, Round 17:

Brisbane Roar 1 (M. Nichols (22)) - Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (M. Bridge (65), Y. Hersi (69)); HT 1-0FC
Central Coast Mariners FC 0 - Newcastle Jets FC 0
Melbourne Heart FC 2 (Tadic (5), R. Garcia (49)) - Adelaide United FC 0; HT 1-0
Perth Glory FC 0 - Melbourne Victory FC 1 (“oggie” (25)); HT 0-1
Sydney FC 7 (J. Griffiths (11), A. Del Piero (20, 23 pen, 39, 70), J. Culina (26), Y. Yau (84)) - Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (B. Sigmund (79)); HT 5-0

By Jeremy Raune, from NZ

Details: Youth-League, Round 13:

Perth Glory FC 5 (Chris Harold 12, Ryo Nagai 48, Riley Woodcock 51, Borbor Sam 84, Ndumba Makeche 90) - Adelaide United FC 2 (Jacob Melling 66, Dion Kirk 82)
Sydney FC 1 (Slater 20') - Melbourne Victory FC 3 (Cristaldo 15', Markelis 33', Espindola 82')
Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (Daniel Bragg 17, Louis Bozanic 46) - Australian Institute of Sport 1 (Marc Marino 43)
Melbourne Heart FC 1 (Macallister 18pen) - Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Perkatis 10pen, Barac 42)
Brisbane Roar FC 3 (Theodore 19, Schiavo 39, Franze 77) - Newcastle Jets FC 2 (Russel 35, Jesic 89)

Details: Womens League, Semi-Finals:

Brisbane Roar FC 2 (Emily Gielnik 14, Vedrana Popovic 75) - Sydney FC 3 (Annalie Longo 19, Samantha Kerr 29, 61) - Sydney go to the Final
Perth Glory FC 1 (McCallum 56) - Melbourne Victory FC 1 (Spiranovic 51) - AET and pens (3-4) Victory go to the Final


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