R26 Review: Melbourne claim Plate as Sydney finish second

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com


Melbourne Victory scored their first silverware in five seasons by claiming the Premiers’ Plate in style at AAMI Park on Anzac weekend, eclipsing Central Coast Mariners 3-1 to take first place in the Hyundai A-League by three points from Sydney FC.

A stunning goal just after the half-hour mark from Daniel Georgievski put the league leaders on course for victory in the final game of the round, and Archie Thompson quickly followed it up with a second goal to put the result beyond doubt.

While Eddy Bosnar pulled one back for the visitors just before the break, Besart Berisha restored Melbourne’s two-goal advantage just after it to the delight of the 22,285 fans present, who began celebrating a rare sighting of silverware for Victoria’s foremost A-League club long before the final whistle.

The Sydneysiders won the battle for second place at Westpac Stadium, edging Wellington Phoenix 2-1 in a match which was, to a large extent, a tale of two penalties.

Roly Bonevacia squandered a glorious chance to open the scoring for Wellington in the tenth minute, directing his spot-kick wide of the target, profligacy which was punished four minutes later by a blockbusting goal from Bernie Ibini-Isei.

That put Sydney in charge of proceedings, and they looked to be home and dry eighteen minutes later when Shane Smeltz showed his countrymen how to convert a penalty to double the visitors lead.

Cue a Wellington onslaught, buoyed by Michael Boxall’s goal a minute into the second half which delighted the 13,248 fans present. But the home team couldn’t find an equaliser, so had to settle for a fourth-placed finish after twenty-seven games, four points behind their conquerors, who’ve earned a weekend off.

8,773 fans saw Adelaide United wallop Melbourne City 4-1 at Coopers Stadium on Saturday evening, with Miguel Palanca and Pablo Sanchez putting the home team on course for victory and an eventual third-placed finish with two goals in four minutes half-way through the first half.

Jonatan Germano served up a contender for “Miss of the Season” soon afterwards, the closest City would come to scoring in the first half. His miss contrasted starkly with Tarek Elrich’s magnificent solo strike in the 33rd minute, the fullback slaloming past four opponents in a swashbuckling run from half-way before burying a beauty.

Cameron Watson’s penalty on the hour put Adelaide on easy street, with Aaron Mooy’s spot-kick for City five minutes later serving as consolation value only to the visitors in a match which finished ten-a-side, City’s Kew Jaliens and United’s Michael Marrone earning their marching orders for separate second half incident which will see both miss at least one game in the play-offs series.

The wooden spoon belongs to Newcastle Jets this season, after they slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Brisbane Roar in the opening game of the round, with Stephen Lustica twice hitting the woodwork for the home team at Suncorp Stadium.

The 8,693 present had to wait until the last twenty minutes to see some goalscoring action, and then, like buses, they came in quick succession. Substitute Kofi Danning broke the deadlock to the delight of Brisbane’s fans nineteen minutes from time, but Edson Montano had the visitors back on level terms within six minutes.

It was left to Lachlan Jackson to confirm Brisbane’s sixth-placed finish with the winner four minutes from time, and condemn Newcastle to the bottom rung on the league ladder at the end of a season best forgotten in the Hunter Valley.

Asian Champions League title-holders Western Sydney Wanderers’ clash with Perth Glory was delayed by fifty minutes on Saturday evening, as Pirtek Stadium found itself in the middle of a stunning hailstorm, to such an extent that the pitch resembled an ice rink ahead of the scheduled kick-off time.

When play eventually got under way, it was the visitors who began brightly, Richard Garcia hitting the post before Jamie MacLaren broke the deadlock in the nineteenth minute.

Daniel De Silva should have doubled Perth’s advantage after the break, only to serve up a late entry for “Miss of the Season” honours after failing to convert another woodwork shaker from Garcia from point-blank range.

His profligacy was punished moments later when Wests’ debutant Liam Youlley levelled the scores eight minutes into the second spell. Few home fans among the 8,852 present saw the equaliser, however, the bulk of them having walked out in protest after one of their number suffered an injury at the hands of stadium security.

Parity at Pirtek was brief, Andy Keogh restoring Perth’s advantage half-way through the second spell with a sumptuous first time strike, but the visitors were left to hang on for the final thirteen minutes with ten men after Denis Kramar committed his second bookable offence.

Hang on they did, however, but thanks to their breach of league rules, seventh place is their lot for the campaign – without the penalty, this win would have assured them of a top three finish …

So to next week’s play-offs, with Adelaide entertaining Brisbane at Coopers Stadium on Friday evening, while Wellington welcomes Melbourne City to Westpac Stadium on Sunday night, with Melbourne Victory and Sydney awaiting the victors the following weekend.

This is the final round review of the season – hope you’ve enjoyed them.

Match details:

Adelaide United FC 4 (M. Palanca (19), P. Sanchez (23), T. Elrich (33), C. Watson (59 pen)) – Melbourne City FC 1 (A. Mooy (65 pen)); HT 3-0

Brisbane Roar FC 2 (K. Danning (71), L. Jackson (86)) – Newcastle United Jets FC 1 (E. Montano (77)); HT 0-0

Melbourne Victory FC 3 (D. Georgievski (32), A. Thompson (34), B. Berisha (47)) – Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (E. Bosnar (45)); HT 2-1

Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (M. Boxall (46)) – Sydney FC 2 (B. Ibini-Isei (14), S. Smeltz (32 pen)); HT 0-2

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (L. Youlley (53)) – Perth Glory FC 2 (J. MacLaren (17), A. Keogh (66)) HT 0-1


P    W    D    L    F    A    GD    Pts

Melbourne Victory    27    15    8    4    56    31    +25    53

Sydney FC        27    14    8    5    52    35    +17    50

Adelaide United    27    14    4    9    47    32    +15    46

Wellington Phoenix    27    14    4    9    45    35    +10    46

Melbourne City        27    9    8    10    36    41    -5    35

Brisbane Roar        27    10    4    13    42    43    -1    34
Perth Glory        27    14    8    5    45    35    +10    50*

Central Coast        27    5    8    14    26    50    -24    23

Western Sydney    27    4    6    17    29    44    -15    18

Newcastle Jets        27    3    8    16    23    55    -32    17

* Breach of league rules – demoted to position outside play-off placings