R16: Taxi For Muscat?

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com
Hyundai A-League – Season 2013/2014 – Round 16 Review

For the second week in a row, Melbourne Victory copped a 5-0 hiding in the Hyundai A-League.

Last week, Wellington Phoenix embarrassed them in New Zealand’s capital, but this time round, it was an Australia Day humiliation by Sydney FC at Etihad Stadium which prompted the question, “Taxi for Muscat?”

Ironically, it’s been Sydney coach Frank Farina who has found himself in the spotlight of late for all the wrong reasons, given his team’s form slump.

But on this night of all nights, Sydney rediscovered their winning ways in a big way, and in doing so piled any amount of pressure on Melbourne boss Kevin Muscat – not too many coaches in football globally manage to retain their job for too long after back-to-back 5-0 hidings.

Sydney’s fans were in heaven after just twenty-five minutes, by which time they were three goals to the good thanks to Ranko Despotovic, Alessandro Del Piero’s penalty and a Sebastian Ryall solo strike which is bound to become the greatest individual highlight of the defender’s entire career – fullbacks simply don’t go cutting a swathe through four challenges before curling the ball home past a defender and the ‘keeper!

The defender concerned, Adrian Leijer, soon departed the pitch on a stretcher, a Milos Dimitrijevic shot knocking him out cold.

As for the ‘keeper, Nathan Coe’s night was best summed up in the 54th minute, when his awful goal-kick presented Del Piero with his second goal of the night on a plate.

Many of the 24,354 fans had already left by the time Nick Carle delivered the coup de grace three minutes from time, capping off a result on which Sydney fans will dine out for many a moon to come, and certainly not the note on which Tom Rogic hoped to mark his debut for Melbourne, who have also confirmed the signing of Brisbane Roar’s Besart Berisha for next season.

The table-toppers were without the services of their soon-to-depart Albanian goalscoring ace for their clash with Wellington, with the 13,889 fans at Suncorp Stadium treated to a come from behind 2-1 win by the home side, and a cracking game to booth, one ignited by Vince Lia hitting the post for the visitors eleven minutes into the contest.

Only a superb save by Michael Theo prevented Jason Hicks from opening the scoring just before the half-hour mark, but nine minutes before half-time Wellington scored the goal their efforts merited, Stein Huysegems ghosting in to stab home his eighth of the season.

On the stroke of half-time, Thomas Broich rattled Wellington’s crossbar with a thumping drive, and he played a part in Devante Clut marking his debut with a superb twenty yard volleyed equaliser five minutes into the second spell.

Only the offside flag prevented Dimitri Petratos from firing Brisbane in front half-way through the second half, but when they eventually did edge ahead, the wait was well worth it – Luke Brattan’s thirty yard guided missile of a volley, five minutes from time, is a sure-fire certainty to be right up there in “Goal of the Season” discussions.

Reigning champions Central Coast Mariners made no race of the F3 derby at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford, scoring all their goals in the first half of a 3-0 win over a Newcastle Jets team which sacked coach Gary Van Egmond during the week.

A string of poor results led to the club parting ways with the mentor, leaving stand-in coach Clayton Zane to pick up the pieces – not the easiest thing to do when your first match entails a trip to the title-holders with 10,920 fans looking on.

Sure enough, Central Coast wasted little time in dipping their bread, Adrian Caceres opening the scoring with a thirteenth minute snorter. Daniel McBreen, having gone close earlier, doubled the home team’s advantage just after the half-hour, and when Matt Simon made it three in first half stoppage time, the game was up for Newcastle.

Emile Heskey spurned a glorious chance from six yards out for the visitors just before half-time, while in the second spell, Craig Goodwin hit the post for Newcastle inside the last twenty minutes, having drawn a save from Liam Reddy moments earlier.

The title-holders were too strong, however, and as a result of this win, moved into second place on Saturday night, thus putting pressure on Western Sydney Wanderers to respond when they took on Perth Glory at Pirtek Stadium twenty-four hours later.

The 14,111-strong crowd were delighted by the home team’s Shinji Ono-inspired 3-1 win, which was built on two goals in seven minutes around the half-hour mark from Brendon Santalab and Aaron Mooy, whose deflected free-kick left Perth facing a mountain to climb.

Shane Smeltz got them halfway there when netting eleven minutes into the second half, but a Mark Bridge penalty nine minutes from time sealed the deal for Western Sydney, for whom this was a welcome return to winning ways.

It’s been a big week for bottom-placed Melbourne Heart, who finally announced their new ownership plans. They were well worth the wait, with a tie-in with big-spending Manchester City part of the deal which will see the club’s name change to Melbourne City further down the line.

For now though, they remain Melbourne Heart, and having scored their first win of the campaign last week, were only denied a second by a stoppage time equaliser at Coopers Stadium, as Adelaide United fought back to draw 2-2 in front of 11,100 fans.

After withstanding the visitors’ initial thrusts, the home team opened the scoring half-way through the first half through Bruce Djite, but that was never going to be enough to contain the resurgent Melbourne side, who levelled matters through Harry Kewell’s penalty on the hour.

When Patrick Kisnorbo headed Heart in front eleven minutes from time, the game looked to be up for Adelaide, but new signing Ryan Griffiths had other ideas, coming off the bench to snatch a share of the spoils in stoppage time.

A brace of Friday night games kicks off seventeenth round action in the A-League, with Melbourne Heart’s AAMI Park clash with Sydney followed by Melbourne Victory’s visit to Perth’s NIB Stadium.

There’s another double-header on Saturday evening, with Auckland’s Eden Park playing host to Wellington’s clash with Adelaide, while Newcastle and Western Sydney lock horns at Hunter Stadium.

The lone Sunday match should be worth the wait – Brisbane and Central Coast Mariners clash at Suncorp Stadium.

Match details

Adelaide United FC 2 (B. Djite (22), R. Griffiths (90)) – Melbourne Heart FC 2 (H. Kewell (61 pen), P. Kisnorbo (79)); HT 1-0
Brisbane Roar FC 2 (D. Clut (50), L. Brattan (85)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (S. Huysegems (36)); HT 0-1
Central Coast Mariners FC 3 (A. Caceres (13), D. McBreen (32), M. Simon (45)) – Newcastle Jets FC 0; HT 3-0
Melbourne Victory FC 0 – Sydney FC 5 (R. Despotovic (11), A. Del Piero (20 pen, 54), S. Ryall (25), N. Carle (87)); HT 0-3
Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (B. Santalab (28), A. Mooy (35), M. Bridge (71 pen)), Perth Glory 1 (S. Smeltz (56)) HT 2-0

P W D L F A GD Pts

Brisbane Roar 16 11 1 4 30 14 +16 34
Western Sydney Wanderers 17 8 5 4 20 16 +4 29
Central Coast Mariners 16 7 6 3 17 15 +2 27
Melbourne Victory 17 6 5 6 22 27 -5 23
Sydney FC 16 7 1 8 22 22 0 22
Adelaide United 16 5 6 5 24 22 +2 21
Perth Glory 16 5 5 6 16 17 -1 20
Newcastle Jets 16 5 4 7 15 20 -5 19
Wellington Phoenix 16 4 5 7 21 20 +1 17
Melbourne Heart 16 1 6 9 14 28 -14 9
By Jeremy Ruane

National Youth League – Round 13

Adelaide United FC 0 – Melbourne Heart FC 0

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 3 (Appiah-Kubi 6, 89, Olsen 65) – Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (Dixon 35, Pandurevic 47)
Perth Glory FC 2 (Makeche 12m, 41m) – Newcastle Jets FC 6 (Bradbery 8m, 31m, 62m, Oxborrow 26m, Pavicevic 47m, Virgili 54m)
Brisbane Roar FC 0 – AIS 2 (Marino 15, Rose 81)

Womens National League – Round 10

Brisbane Roar FC 3 (Larissa Crummer 19’, Hayley Raso 31’, Tameka Butt 82’) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Shawna Gordon 8’, Michelle Carney 45+2’)
Adelaide United FC 1 (Kristy Moore 52’) – Sydney FC 2 (Jodie Taylor 24’, Amy Harrison 95’)
Newcastle Jets FC 1 (Rhali Dobson 74’) – Melbourne Victory FC 4 (Lisa De Vanna 12’, 54’, 56, Stephanie Catley 58’)
Canberra United FC 5 (Ellie Brush 37’, Caitlin Munoz 41’, Lori Lindsey 81’, Georgia Yeoman-Dale 90’, 92’) – Perth Glory FC 1 (Kate Gill 84’)

Deferred game: Canberra United FC 2 (Michelle Heyman 9’, Caitlin Munoz (pen) 57’) defeated Sydney FC 1 (Renee Rollason 35’)