R12 Review: Christmas Round produces The Game Of The Season

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

HAL Round Review

Sydney FC head into the new year with a seven-point advantage at the top of the Hyundai A-League after the Christmas round of action, but for once the attention isn’t on the leaders.

Instead, Melbourne City and Perth Glory share the spotlight after producing a quite stunning game at AAMI Park. 11,269 fans witnessed a quite remarkable 3-3 draw, in which both teams had a player sent off for violent conduct, and Perth ‘keeper Liam Reddy twice saved Bruno Fornaroli penalties, one deep in stoppage time.

The fun and games started as early as the third minute, when Chris Harold headed wide of an open goal. City’s response saw Tim Cahill head them in front six minutes later – he had another goal disallowed later in the half.

Before it, however, Diego Castro fired Perth back on level terms half-way through the half. Fornaroli then fired City in front again before a quite incredible sequence of events unfolded five minutes before half-time.

Fornaroli lined up a penalty, but Reddy plunged to his left to turn the ball away, sparking a counter-attack from which Castro levelled the scores – what could easily have been 3-1 to City nigh on instantly became 2-2!

The second half was every bit as dramatic. Fornaroli made no mistake from the spot when City earned their second penalty of the night on the hour mark, but within minutes Harold had once more restored parity.

Only the woodwork prevented Nebojsa Marinkovic from giving Perth the lead for the first time in the match late on in proceedings, but in stoppage time, the visitors’ Dino Djulbic and City’s Fernando Brattan were both sent off by referee Shaun Evans following an incident which saw the home team awarded their third penalty of the evening.

Up stepped Fornaroli to win it for City, only for Reddy to deny him from twelve yards for the second time in the match to earn Perth a share of the spoils in one of the all-time-classic A-League encounters.

Leaders Sydney humbled reigning champions Adelaide United 4-0 in front of 11,805 fans at Coopers Stadium, where both Sergio Cirio and Bobo had chances to break the deadlock before Filip Holosko finally did so eleven minutes before half-time.

That proved to be the foundation upon which Sydney put United to the sword in the second spell. Alex Brosque doubled their lead eight minutes into the second spell before Rhyan Grant and Brosque wrapped up the scoring with two goals in as many minutes half-way through the second half, the latter’s second strike of the game a tap-in after Holosko’s shot had struck the post.

That result put the pressure on Melbourne Victory to beat Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park in order to restrict Sydney’s advantage at the top of the table to seven points, but they responded in style, thrashing the visitors 4-1 in front of 20,491 fans on Wednesday evening.

The home team were all over their struggling rivals like a rash early on, and the most remarkable aspect of the first half – aside from the unhealthy heat in which the match was played – was that it took until the 28th minute for the deadlock to be broken, Jake McGing putting through his own net as he looked to deny Besart Berisha.

Melbourne kept Central Coast at arm’s length until the half-time break, but hit the turbo button early in the second half, three goals in nine minutes securing them an unassailable advantage prior to the hour mark.

James Donachie headed home the first of them five minutes into the second spell, before Marco Rojas converted a quick-fire double – two goals in as many minutes – to settle the contest once and for all.

Trent Buhagiar bagged a late consolation goal for Central Coast, but they were a well-beaten side in this contest as Melbourne cemented their second placing in emphatic fashion.

When the teams which have drawn most games in the competition to date get together, you’ll get fairly long odds on either of them winning the clash. Sure enough, a 1-1 stalemate was the outcome at Suncorp Stadium, as 13,110 fans watched Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers pick up yet another point apiece.

It wasn’t pretty viewing on a wretched playing surface, but the game was set alight by Corey Brown’s well-taken goal for the home team seven minutes into the second spell.

The advantage was short-lived, however, Dimas Delgado’s delightful free-kick levelling the scores fifteen minutes later, although the visitors’ night was marred late on by the dismissal of Brendon Santalab for violent conduct.

That stalemate was matched at McDonald Jones Stadium twenty-four hours later, where Newcastle Jets twice came from behind to hold Wellington Phoenix to a 2-2 draw in front of 8,451 spectators.

Guilherme Finkler hit the post with a free-kick just shy of the half-hour mark as the visitors pressed for a goal which came ten minutes before half-time, courtesy Costa Barbarouses.

The second spell started in lively fashion, with Andrew Nabbout’s equaliser for the home team responded to two minutes later by Finkler, who tapped in a Roy Krishna cross to restore Wellington’s advantage five minutes into the second spell.

They retained it for eleven minutes, with Andrew Hoole responsible for levelling the scores once more in a match which saw both teams striving for the winner, with the home team unlucky not to get a last-minute penalty – the officials missed some shirt-pulling in the area which prevented Ma Leilei from getting on the end of Nabbout’s cross.

Sydney and Brisbane kick off the New Year round of action on Friday evening when they meet at Allianz Stadium, while Melbourne City travel to Gosford to take on Central Coast on New Year’s Eve.

Wellington and Adelaide kick off 2017 at Westpac Stadium, before Western Sydney and Perth square off at ANZ Stadium later on New Year’s Day, while twenty-four hours later, Melbourne Victory and Newcastle wrap up the round when they lock horns at Geelong’s Simonds Stadium.

As this is the last round review for 2016, I’ll take this opportunity to wish all readers a prosperous and Happy New Year.

Match details:

Adelaide United FC 0 – Sydney FC 4 (F. Holosko (34), A. Brosque (53, 66), R. Grant (64)); HT 0-1

Brisbane Roar FC 1 (C. Brown (52)) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (D. Delgado (67)); HT 0-0

Melbourne City FC 3 (T. Cahill (9), B. Fornaroli (36, 61 pen)) – Perth Glory FC 3 (D. Castro (21, 40), C. Howard (64)); HT 2-2

Newcastle United Jets FC 2 (A. Nabbout (48), A. Hoole (61)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (C. Barbarouses (35), G. Finkler (50)); HT 0-1 (see feature report in BOTN)

Melbourne Victory FC 4 (“oggie” (28), J. Donachie (50), M. Rojas (58, 59)) – Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (T. Buhagir (89)); HT 1-0


P W D L F A GD Pts
Sydney FC 12 9 3 0 29 5 +24 30
Melbourne Victory 11 7 2 2 26 12 +14 23
Brisbane Roar 12 5 6 1 16 12 +4 21
Melbourne City 12 5 4 3 20 16 +4 19
Newcastle Jets 12 3 4 5 15 18 -3 13
Perth Glory 12 3 4 5 21 26 -5 13
Western Sydney Wanderers 12 2 7 3 16 22 -6 13
Wellington Phoenix 11 3 2 6 13 18 -5 11
Central Coast Mariners 12 2 3 7 12 26 -14 9
Adelaide United 12 1 3 8 10 23 -13 6

Other review information

W-League ‘Round’ 8 Details

Sydney FC 1 (Princess Ibini 55’) – Brisbane Roar FC 0

Newcastle United Jets FC 1 (Jenna Kingsley 8’) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Katie Stengel  11’, 30’)

Melbourne City FC 2 (Jess Fishlock 60’, Aivi Luik 72’) – Perth Glory FC 3 (Rosie Sutton 47’, Sam Kerr 77’, 85’)

Adelaide United, Canberra United, Melbourne Victory – BYE (yes 3!)


National Youth League Round 7 Details