Sydney FC secured top spot with another commanding performance, while at the other end of the ladder Adelaide United jumped off the bottom with victory in a high-scoring affair. In the middle of all that one team kept their finals hopes alive with a huge win, while the jostling inside the top six continued. Here’s our look back at the weekend that was in the A-League.
Stunning Santalab hat-trick lifts Wanderers
After going down 1-0 before the match was even four minutes old, Western Sydney Wanderers stormed back thanks to a Brendon Santalab hat-trick to secure a vital 3-1 win over Melbourne City. Neil Kilkenny’s powerful first-time strike opened the scoring in Round 24, with his City side holding the lead until the 22nd minute. At that point Santalab took matters into his own hands, slotting a neat finish from the left side of the goal for the first, which also saw him become the first Wanderers player to score 12 goals in a single season. Further strikes in the second half – a thumping header from eight yards followed by another aerial effort up over the impending hand of keeper Thomas Sorensen – secured the victory for Western Sydney. City blew a late chance to try and rescue a point when striker Bruno Fornaroli had his penalty attempt saved by Vedran Janjetovic.
Adelaide jump from bottom with win over Mariners
It hadn’t shaped as the most appealing game given it was a battle of the A-League’s cellar-dwellers, with Adelaide and the Central Coast the two bottom teams with only nine wins between them heading into the match. It turned out to be a five-goal thriller, with Adelaide getting up 3-2 to lift themselves out of the wooden spoon slot for the time being. The two sides traded goals following defensive errors before the hour mark, with Kwabena Appiah nodding home for the Mariners and Baba Diawara equalising for the Reds. But within the next 10 minutes both Dylan McGowan and Diawara added further goals via headers to make it 3-1, before Adelaide endured a late scare after conceding a 90th-minute penalty which Roy O’Donovan converted for a final score of 3-2.
— Adelaide United FC (@AdelaideUnited) March 25, 2017
McLaren wonder goal sees Roar past Sydney
Sydney FC won the Premiers Plate (minor premiership) before they had even kicked a ball in Round 24, thanks to the Brisbane Roar beating second-placed Melbourne Victory 1-0 at Suncorp Stadium. Without frontline players, James Troisi, Jai Ingham, Marco Rojas and Besart Berisha due to international duty, the Victory battled valiantly through an opening 45 minutes which Brisbane dominated. It wasn’t until Jamie McLaren expertly outmuscled two defenders to fire a dipping shot home from well outside the box that the Roar made their advantage count on the scoreboard, but it was all they needed. Still nine points clear of the closest team behind them, the loss will do little to hurt Melbourne, but for fourth-placed Brisbane the result reignites their hopes of a top-three placing, with only points difference separating them and Melbourne City now.
— Brisbane Roar (@brisbaneroar) March 26, 2017
Phoenix restore hope with sublime showing
Fresh off a heavy defeat to Western Sydney last up, a Wellington side without seven first-choice players on international duty demolished fellow top-six hopefuls Newcastle 5-0. The Phoenix held a handy 2-0 lead at the break thanks to goals from Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler, before they thrilled the Westpac Stadium crowd by going to another level in the second period. Matthew Ridenton buried a loose ball off a corner and Roly Bonevacia fired low and a hard for goals, in between Jets defender Jason Hoffman putting one in his own net, to take it out to five goals, Wellington’s biggest winning margin of the 2016/17 campaign. With the sixth-placed Wanderers winning as well, the result keeps Wellington (7th) in reach of a play-off spot but doesn’t improve their position. For Newcastle the dream of playing beyond the regular season is almost beyond reach now, needing three wins from three and Wanderers to lose every one of their remaining matches.
Kosta magnificent tonight, but no bad players out there for Phoenix. Thought Dylan Fox was excellent. Lia unsung. Italiano v. good #WELvNEW
— Jason Pine (@pineyzb) March 26, 2017
Sky Blue celebrate Premiers Plate in style
Having won the Premiers Plate before they even stepped foot onto Perth’s nib Stadium due to other results, Sydney FC produced a classy 3-0 win over the Glory to continue what has been a remarkable season. In sealing their 18th win in 24 games, FC scored twice in the first half and once in the second. Debutant Lucian Goian’s clumsy attempt to clear a corner saw him put the opening goal into his own net on 38 minutes, and a short time later the Sky Blue doubled their advantage with a goal to Brandon O’Neill. Just after the hour an exquisite back heel from Alex Brosque found Bobo for the third goal, as Sydney marched on to record their third victory over Perth in as many games this season.
— Fox Sports Lab (@FoxSportsLab) March 26, 2017