A-League week 26 round-up

Matt King

Penalties and own-goals dominated the league's penultimate round.

Friday April 4: Adelaide United 2 - Melbourne Heart 2

A last gasped Fabio Ferreira equalizer kept Adelaide United in the middle of the challenge for second place in the A-League. Having taken a first minute lead thanks to Marcelo Carrusca, the Reds trailed and were a man down after forty-two minutes against Melbourne Heart. A David Williams penalty and Mate Dugandzic's goal sandwiched Tarek Elrich's straight red card in the 35th minute. Ferreira scored in the 93rd minute to provide a crucial point for Adelaide and by the end of the weekend left them in fourth place. The Reds have by far the league's best goal difference, apart from Brisbane Roar, so if the results fall the right way in the league's final weekend, could see Adelaide to a bye past the Elimination Finals. A trip to Newcastle Jets is coming on Friday April 11 at the Hunter Stadium while Heart will showcase Harry Kewell in his final game in hosting Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday April 12 at AAMI Park.

Saturday April 5: Newcastle Jets 2 - Melbourne Victory 2

Twice Mark Milligan scored equalizing goals, leaving Melbourne Victory in fifth place after a 2-2 draw at Newcastle Jets. Adam Taggart scored the opener in the 18th minute but Milligan quickly answered with a 21st minute goal. Just a minute later an Adrian Leijer own-goal saw the Jets back into the lead. Over an hour passed before Milligan got his second, an 86th minute penalty. The point was enough to stay clear of Sydney FC but kept the Victory level on points with Adelaide United, who also got a late draw. The lack of three points was a missed opportunity as Western Sydney Wanderers drew and Central Coast Mariners lost. For Newcastle, losing two points also made a finals appearance much more difficult with just one week left this season. The Jets could have been only one point shy of Sydney but now remain three back with only a game at home against Melbourne Heart available to sneak in. Obviously Sydney would have to lose for that to take place, and goal difference of three overcome. Melbourne are away to Wellington Phoenix on Saturday April 12 with second place still very much a possible outcome.

Saturday April 5: Western Sydney Wanderers 1 - Brisbane Roar 1

Western Sydney Wanderers moved into second place with a 1-1 draw against Brisbane Roar at Pirtek Stadium. Tomi Juric's 61st minute goal canceled out Liam Miller's 35th minute equalizer to take a point and slip past faltering Central Coast Mariners. The Wanderers will travel to Melbourne on Saturday April 12 for the season finale against Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park. All three points would secure second place and a bye past the Elimination Finals. Any other result would leave various scenarios open for several clubs. The Roar are coasting into the finals and can play a bit of a spoiler role in hosting Central Coast on Saturday April 12 at Suncorp Stadium.

Saturday April 5: Perth Glory 3 - Central Coast Mariners 1

The wooden spoon might not spend the offseason in Western Australia after all, thanks to a 3-1 home win for Perth Glory over Central Coast Mariners. Steven McGarry and Sidnei scored before a Zac Anderson own-goal put the game away for the home side in the 85th minute. Only a Nick Fitzgerald first half penalty got the visiting Mariners on the score sheet and left them level on points but dramatically behind on goal difference with Western Sydney Wanderers. The missed opportunity to control their own fate for second place leaves work to be done at Brisbane Roar on Saturday April 12, else the championship holders will have to play in the Elimination Finals. Perth move to eighth place, clear of Wellington Phoenix on goal difference, and two points above Melbourne Heart. The Glory travel to Sydney FC in the season's final game on Sunday April 13.

Sunday April 6: Sydney FC 4 - Wellington Phoenix 1

Alessandro Del Piero lifted Sydney FC back into finals contention with a first half brace as the Sky Blues defeated Wellington Phoenix 4-1 at the Allianz Stadium. Del Piero converted a 33rd minute penalty and scored against just before halftime to give Sydney all it would need against the Phoenix. Carlos Hernandez scored from the spot in the 56th minute but Seb Ryall replied with a goal one minute later and Ali Abbas sealed the game with a 60th minute goal of his own. All Sydney need now is a single point in its finale against Perth Glory on Sunday April 13 to hold at least sixth place and a spot in the Elimination Finals. Wellington was already eliminated from finals competition and will host Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium on Saturday April 12.

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