Goals galore as the Summer of Heroes reaches climax
There is rarely a dull moment in the Hyundai A-League and the last month of competition has proved no exception, with shock results, record runs, free-scoring antics and sensational saves providing thrilling entertainment.
The Hyundai A-League’s Summer of Heroes campaign drew to a close at the end of Round 15, with thousands of fans having taken advantage of cut-price family tickets to watch their heroes in action.
And what a treat they got.
Over the seven rounds, 114 goals were scored across 35 matches – an average of more than three goals a game. Ladder leaders Perth Glory top scored with 16, while Sydney FC, Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory each notched an impressive 14.
The Summer of Heroes came to an end with Glory astride the ladder, but looking anxiously over their shoulder as Sydney loom just two points behind after a strong run. Reigning Champions Victory sit two points further back as we pass the halfway stage.
There is plenty more to come in the 2018/19 Hyundai A-League, but read on to see who were the outstanding stars of the Summer of Heroes, and watch the goals go flying in…
The Summer of Heroes starts as with a massive splash as Sydney FC become the first team all season to record a win over Perth Glory. To add insult to injury, the Harbour City side pocket the three points in Glory’s own backyard, at nib Stadium.
Despite the reverse, Perth remain sitting pretty at the top of the Hyundai A-League on Christmas Day.
Elsewhere, Wellington Phoenix continue their rise from the ashes of their early season form by thumping four goals past Brisbane Roar to cement their place in the top six. After six matches of the current campaign, the New Zealanders had won just once, but their triumph over the Roar brings up a third successive victory for Mark Rudan’s team.
Teenager Sarpreet Singh pulls the midfield strings for Wellington and scores his side’s fourth goal, while forward Roy Krishna underlines his importance by netting from the penalty spot.
The Melbourne derby comes to a dramatic finale as Victory’s six-game winning streak is brought to an end courtesy of Dario Vidosic’s 92nd equaliser for City at AAMI Park.
There is a derby-day comeback, too, for Newcastle Jets, who recover from falling behind to win 2-1 at Central Coast Mariners for a fourth successive win against their nearest rivals.
The results in full: Adelaide United 2 Western Sydney Wanderers 2; Central Coast Mariners 1 Newcastle Jets 2; Melbourne City 1 Melbourne Victory 1; Wellington Phoenix 4 Brisbane Roar 1; Perth Glory 1 Sydney FC 2
Matchday 10 takes place across five different days – and two different years – as 2018 rolls into 2019.
Normal service is resumed for the Glory, who take out their frustration at seeing their unbeaten run come to an end the previous week by travelling east to fire four past Central Coast Mariners and stretch their lead at the top of the ladder to three points.
Even a broken goalpost fails to take Perth’s eye off the ball, with two goals apiece for Andy Keogh and Fabio Ferreira – his first in 23 months – providing the New Year’s Eve fireworks.
They are helped in extending their lead at the top of the ladder to three points by a second successive draw for second-place Melbourne Victory, who share the spoils with the resurgent Wellington Phoenix.
Victims of a late equaliser against their city rivals the previous week, it is Victory’s turn to celebrate deep into the game when Sweden striker Ola Toivonen nets with 13 minutes left to earn the champions a valuable point and extend their unbeaten run to eight games.
Sydney FC and Melbourne City keep up their chase for finals places by beating Brisbane Roar (2-1) and Western Sydney Wanderers (2-0) respectively. City have goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic to thank, after the former Adelaide United man pulls off a string of top-drawer saves to deny Wanderers, while Adam Le Fondre scores both Sydney goals to deny the Roar.
The results in full: Western Sydney Wanderers 0 Melbourne City 2; Central Coast Mariners 1 Perth Glory 4; Newcastle Jets 1 Adelaide United 2; Sydney FC 2 Brisbane Roar 1; Melbourne Victory 1 Wellington Phoenix 1
Adam Taggart scores twice for Brisbane Roar as they race to a 2-0 half-time lead at home to Perth Glory, but the West Australian side are not leading the pack by accident.
Despite being almost blown away by their hosts in the opening period, Glory battle back after the break to outscore their opponents, inspired by a brace from the outstanding Neil Kilkenny in central midfield to win 4-2.
There are victories for the chasing pack, too, with Melbourne Victory, Sydney FC and Melbourne City all picking up three points in the chase for the finals places.
Pick of the bunch is Sydney, who thump poor Central Coast Mariners 5-2, thanks in no small part to a first ever A-League hat-trick for 35-year-old striker Alex Brosque.
Adelaide United (fifth) and Wellington Phoenix (sixth) share the spoils with a 0-0 draw to pull five points clear of seventh place Newcastle Jets.
The results in full: Brisbane Roar 2 Perth Glory 4; Melbourne City 2 Newcastle Jets 1; Western Sydney Wanderers 1 Melbourne Victory 2; Adelaide United 0 Wellington Phoenix 0; Sydney FC 5 Central Coast Mariners 2
Lightning, it turns out, does not strike twice. Stung by a season-first defeat at the hands of Sydney FC on Matchday 9, Perth Glory do not make the same mistakes when the Sky Blues return to nib Stadium.
Keen to prove their worth as they eye a grand final place, Tony Popovic’s side race to a 3-0 half-time lead through Joel Chianese (2) and Brendon Santalab. Le Fondre pulls one back for Sydney after the break, but it never looks likely to be enough.
To make the day even better for the Glory, their lead in the ladder is stretched to six points after the top six’s ‘dark horses’ Adelaide United turn over their closest challengers, Melbourne Victory, with a clinical 2-0 victory. Isaías is outstanding for Adelaide, while Craig Goodwin and Ken Ilsö get on the scoresheet to inflict damage on Muscat's men.
Performance of the round though goes to Central Coast Mariners, who rack up a long-awaited first win of the season by defeating Melbourne City 2-1. Hero of the hour is Mariners’ skipper Matt Simon – although he almost is not.
The 33-year-old sees his 89th-minute penalty saved by Eugene Galekovic, but smashes in the rebound to end a Hyundai A-League drought of 327 days for the Mariners.
The results in full: Central Coast Mariners 2 Melbourne City 1; Perth Glory 3 Sydney FC 1; Adelaide United 2 Melbourne Victory 0; Western Sydney Wanderers 2 Wellington Phoenix 3; Newcastle Jets 2 Brisbane Roar 2
It may be unlucky for some, but as the Summer of Heroes approaches its final stretch in Round 13, it is a weekend to savour for home fans.
All five host sides – including each of the top four – pick up three points, while Wellington Phoenix pip a newly confident Central Coast to leapfrog Adelaide United and claim fifth place in the ladder.
Victory, without Ola Toivonen and Keisuke Honda, can thank James Troisi for their narrow win over Newcastle Jets. The 30-year-old plays a part in Terry Antonis' opener with a lovely scooped pass before blasting in an 84th-minute winner to break Newcastle hearts.
For the second week running, Western Sydney Wanderers lose a thriller to the odd goal in several, going down 4-3 in Perth after a 3-2 loss at home to Wellington Phoenix the previous week.
The results in full: Perth Glory 4 Western Sydney Wanderers 3; Sydney FC 2 Adelaide United 1; Melbourne Victory 2 Newcastle Jets 1; Wellington Phoenix 3 Central Coast Mariners 2; Melbourne City 1 Brisbane Roar 0
You have to love football. Just as Perth are beginning to look unstoppable, Melbourne City get the measure of them.
It may be only the second goalless draw of the Summer of Heroes, but it is an absorbing contest lit up by the creativity of Glory’s Diego Castro. City’s Harrison Delbridge, back in the side after suspension, has a game to remember, twice denying the threatening Andy Keogh with well-timed blocks.
With Melbourne Victory held in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Wellington Phoenix, Sydney take full advantage and charge into second spot in the ladder courtesy of a 1-0 win at home to Newcastle Jets.
Roy Krishna continues to inspire the Phoenix, scoring twice against Kevin Muscat’s side to take his tally for the season to 11, in the process becoming the first player in Hyundai A-League history to score two or more goals in three consecutive matches.
Western Sydney Wanderers slip to a fifth successive defeat, and will be glad to see the back of Adelaide United winger Craig Goodwin, whose dribbling and willingness to get in behind left their defence with twisted blood. Goodwin set up the Reds’ opener for Vince Lia before scoring the winner himself.
The results in full: Central Coast Mariners 1 Brisbane Roar 1; Melbourne Victory 3 Wellington Phoenix 3; Melbourne City 0 Perth Glory 0; Sydney FC 1 Newcastle Jets 0; Western Sydney Wanderers 1 Adelaide United 2
The Summer of Heroes draws to a close with Sydney FC breathing ominously down the neck of ladder-leaders Perth Glory.
The Sky Blues bring an end to Wellington’s unbeaten run, thanks in large part to goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne, who stands firm to keep out a second-half penalty from Phoenix hot-shot Roy Krishna.
Siem De Jong scores the crucial goal in Sydney’s gritty 1-0 win, but it comes at a price as he damages his ankle in the process and is subbed off.
With Perth Glory being held to a second successive 0-0 draw – this time at the hands of Adelaide United – their lead at the top has been trimmed to just two points.
For their part, Western Sydney Wanderers would love a 0-0 draw. Manager Markus Babbel is left declaring his side “can’t defend”, after they throw away a 3-2 lead to concede twice in the last six minutes and lose 4-3 at Melbourne City.
Victory move up to third with a 5-0 thumping of Brisbane at the Suncorp Stadium, with Kosta Barbarouses scoring a second-half hat-trick – his first in the Hyundai A-League.
The results in full: Perth Glory 0 Adelaide United 0; Newcastle Jets 1 Central Coast Mariners 0; Wellington Phoenix 0 Sydney FC 1; Melbourne City 4 Western Sydney Wanderers 3; Brisbane Roar 0 Melbourne Victory 5.