Wanderers broke a two-month drought, the Jets kept defying the odds and the Glory got up in the Distance Derby – but it was the video assistant referee who owned the major headlines at the end of Round 11 of the A-League.
Here’s a bit of free advice for FFA. Just look at social media tonight. It’s instructive. VAR is a loser. It’s hurting the A-League. The fans don’t want it. You don’t need overpaid consultants to tell you that.
— Ray Gatt (@Gatty54) December 16, 2017
FC keep chugging against near rival
Melbourne City fought valiantly but couldn’t convert enough of their chances to foot it with a classy Sydney FC, who picked up a 3-1 victory to remain five points clear at the top.
After Ross McCormack failed to convert a one-on-one chance after just 14 minutes, City finally found their way to the opener via a VAR-checked effort from Luke Brattan, which saw him ping the ball off the crossbar and over the line. Just before the break Adrian Mierzejewski’s delightful free kick from outside the box – his second set piece screamer in as many weeks – drew Sydney level, before Bobo scored off a penalty to give the ladder leader’s a half-time advantage. Melbourne were right in the game, but weren’t helped by 70th-minute dismissal of Manny Muscat for a swinging elbow, and couldn’t find a way through their clinical opposition. Alex Brosque grabbed a third deep into added time to seal Sydney’s unbeaten home run to 22 games.
Late drama as Jets edge United
A penalty in the final minute of normal time saw Newcastle past Adelaide on Saturday night, in another match which sadly finished with the conversation centered on the VAR, rather than the actual game.
Both sides took their sweet time getting into the match, and it wasn’t until after the 30th-minute that a meaningful shot on goal was produced. After a scoreless first half, it didn’t take long for the deadlock to be broken in the second, with Andrew Nabbout creeping back from an offside position just in time to score his sixth goal in seven games. It breathed life into an otherwise dull contest, with Adelaide equalising 10 minutes later via an unmarked George Blackwood at the back post. A penalty in the dying stages – which was dubious to say the least, and once again called into question the usefulness of the VAR – would decide the match, with Dimitri Petratos converting to keep Newcastle in second position, four points clear of third-place Melbourne City. Jets keeper Glen Moss also deserved plenty of praise for a couple of clutch saves which made all the difference.
The problem with the penalty decision… lies in the referee interpretation from Stephen Lucas. VAR can’t overrule if they can’t 100% say it didn’t touch arm. It’s refs fault. Never a pen. Not VAR’s fault!!! #NEWvADL
— Brenton Speed (@BrentonSpeed) December 16, 2017
Nine-man Mariners no match for Wanderers
Western Sydney responded in the best possible way to last week’s humiliating 5-0 loss in the Sydney Derby with a confident 2-0 victory over the Central Coast, who spent the last 13 minutes down two players following a pair of straight reds for wayward tackles.
Goals either side of half-time to Brendon Santalab and Alvaro Cejudo got the job done for the Wanderers, with the somewhat appropriately nicknamed ‘Santa’ giving his side an early gift with a well-placed effort from outside the box, before he turned provider to set Cejudo up five minutes into the second stanza. The Mariners had their chances – Andrew Hoole missing with a flying chested effort early in the first and Daniel De Silva inches away from a tap in just before the break – but couldn’t produce a clinical finish on goal, while Vedran Janjetovic did his part in the net for Western Sydney as they ended a nine-game winless streak. Wout Brama and Jake McGing were given VAR-assisted red cards inside the final half hour to cap a rough night at the office for the Mariners.
Proud of the boys, the fans & everyone @ the club tonight.
Momentum in sport is hard to break regardless of the direction.
Forward we go 🔴⚫️
— Jerrad Tyson (@jerradtyson) December 16, 2017
Glory down Phoenix in Distance Derby
After dominating the initial exchanges, Wellington appeared to feel the effects of one of the longest trips in club sport, with Perth finishing with a flurry to win 1-0 at nib Stadium.
It was Wellington who bossed proceedings through the first half and early in the second – that despite losing key attacking weapon Dario Vidosic to a knee injury – enjoying a number of chances, the best of which was blocked by a desperate sliding challenge from defender Shane Lowry, before Matthew Ridenton hit the upright on 49 minutes. Right on the hour Diego Castro received the ball six yards out and had what seemed a lifetime to pick his area past Lewis Italiano. It proved to be all Perth needed, picking up a win which lifts them to fifth on the ladder, while piling more misery on the Nix.
Perth Glory move back into the top six.
— Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) December 16, 2017
Big first half sets up Victory win
Led by an on-fire Leroy George, the Melbourne Victory got past Brisbane 2-1 to jump inside the A-League’s top six for the first time in season 2017/18.
Melbourne scored after just 12 minutes, and such was their early dominance, by that stage Brisbane keeper Jamie Young had already been forced into a couple of top-class saves. The opener came following George’s corner, which Rhys Williams rose high to power into the back of the net. Just seven minutes later the Dutchman would once again provide the perfect ball for a goal, after breaking down the left and swinging in for a waiting Kosta Barbarouses, doubling Victory’s lead at Suncorp Stadium. Just before the break Young produced another killer save to keep his side in the game, and early in the second there was once again some hope for the home side as Massimo Maccarone netted to set up an exciting final half hour. Besart Berisha thought he’d secured the result with an 89th-minute score, which was later overturned, but it wouldn’t matter as Melbourne picked up their third win of the year to go fifth.
— Melbourne Victory (@gomvfc) December 17, 2017