Melbourne Victory has pushed the premiership race to the absolute limit with an away derby demolition over Sydney, placing them two points clear of Melbourne City, who have one match remaining.
Victory comfortably managed their Big Blue rivals in the headline game of the A-League’s final weekend of the regular season, setting up a huge must-win fixture for Melbourne City against Wellington Phoenix to decide the title.
Western United’s top two dreams were officially dashed after falling to Adelaide United, resigning them to the elimination finals in the process.
Central Coast recorded a second consecutive derby win over Arthur Papas’ Newcastle side while Macarthur FC and Western Sydney were forced to settle for a draw.
Adelaide United-Western United 2-1
A couple of brilliant strikes from the Reds’ wing backs rescued them against Western United to extend their winning streak to five, setting themselves up excellently for the finals series.
The Green and Black club pulled ahead early after a swift counter-attack led to an easy tap-in for young forward Dylan Wenzel-Halls (5′).
Adelaide right back Javi Lopez made it level, thanks to an excellent effort from just outside the box (14′) before his teammate Ryan Kitto followed suit, scoring fantastically from range to give the South Australians the win (51′).
Western United fielded Jerry Skotadis for the first 81 minutes of the contest.
Macarthur FC-Western Sydney 1-1
Both clubs fought hard for a draw to wrap up their disappointing campaigns.
The Wanderers took the lead after a headed effort from midfielder Jarrod Carluccio (10′) before Tomi Juric converted his penalty to equalise for the Bulls (55′).
Western Sydney started Greek-Australian talent in Dimitri Petratos, Terry Antonis, Johnny Koutroumbis and Tassos Mourdoukoutas while Macarthur subbed on Apostolos Giannou for the final 13 minutes.
Sydney FC-Melbourne Victory 1-4
The Victorians crushed Sydney to ruin veteran Bobo’s retirement match as well as dramatically increase their chances for a premiership.
Victory striker Nick D’Agostino produced a driving run down the right side, carrying the ball into the box before striking the ball with venom past goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne at his near post (14′).
Sky Blues responded quickly after an over-the-top ball by forward Kosta Barbarouses reached Adam Le Fondre, with the marksman hitting the ball magnificently from the edge of the box on the half-volley to draw level (16′).
The travelers restored their lead, thanks to a free-kick goal from midfielder Jake Brimmer (30′), before doubling it through a corner header from defender Jason Geria (38′).
The Sydney faithful lifted with the introduction of Bobo in the 71st minute but Victory dampened their spirits again with a header from centre half Brendan Hamill for the match’s final goal (87′).
The Melbournians introduced Chris Ikonomidis into the game with 15 minutes left.
Victory manager Tony Popovic praised his side’s efforts in doing everything they needed to do to push City for the premiership.
“We’ve done our part. We handled the pressure very well and got the desired result. We scored four goals in a place we haven’t won as a club in a long time. Now, we see what happens. It’s out of our hands but we’ll wait and see what happens,” Mr Popovic said post-match.
Central Coast-Newcastle Jets 2-0
The Mariners came together to down their F3 rivals for the second time in as many weeks, setting up a huge elimination final against Adelaide.
The Gosford side broke through on the half-hour mark after a wonderful curling finish from striker Jason Cummings, his tenth of the season, before winger Beni Nkololo made it two after blocking goalkeeper Michael Weier’s clearance and tapping in the rebound (62′).
Newcastle played Kosta Grozos for the first 76 minutes of the clash.
Jets coach Arthur Papas stressed that his side will bounce back next season, while also mentioning their attention is now strictly focused on their upcoming Australia Cup qualifying match.
“This off-season, we need to use correctly to make sure that we’re not in this position twelve months from now, which we won’t be…the last game of the season isn’t tonight, it’s possibly on Thursday, and that’s what we’ll be aiming for,” Mr Papas said post-match.
Melbourne City faces off with Wellington Phoenix on Monday evening in a title decider for the current champions while Brisbane hosts Sydney FC on Tuesday to conclude the regular season.
A-League Ladder (teams with a game in hand)
1-Melbourne Victory: 48
2-Melbourne City: 46 (25)
3-Western United: 45
4-Adelaide United: 43
5-Central Coast: 42
6-Wellington Phoenix: 39 (25)
7-Macarthur FC: 33
8-Sydney FC: 31 (25)
9-Newcastle Jets: 29
10-Western Sydney: 27
11-Brisbane Roar: 23 (25)
12-Perth Glory: 18