Heroic Moments: Magical Castro pushes Perth closer to Premiership

It would be unfair to label Perth Glory Hyundai A-League escape artists, according to Tony Popovic.

The 45-year-old taskmaster, it might be imagined, is not one who believes in the supernatural.

However, the Glory boss must privately admit his side's charge to the Premiership has been decorated by flickers of magic.

And when it comes to conjuring up the unexpected, few players in Australia can pluck rabbits from hats like Diego Castro.

The former La Liga veteran conjured a stunning late equaliser to save Glory a point in Sunday's 2-2 arm-wrestle with Melbourne City.

It was the latest instance of Perth collecting points from a seemingly untenable circumstance, a trend which has become the hallmark of the club's Premiership assault.

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Before the season, there were minor rumblings about the 36-year-old Spaniard's ability to bleed for the Popovic regime.

Such doubts have since been shattered.

Indeed, 'El Maestro' has been wrapped in cotton wool for a good portion of the season, playing just 926 minutes this campaign.

However, the Pontevedra-born playmaker still remains a standout candidate to clinch the Alex Tobin medal.

That is despite him starting just nine matches, less than half the amount of nearest contenders Milos Ninkovic (20) and Roy Krishna (20).

No wonder Popovic believes Glory's ambitions are limitless with Castro on board.

"With Diego (Castro), anything's always possible," Popovic said.

"He's a special player, he's been one and he certainly is at the moment for us. I think he led the way in our recovery in the second half.

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"[In the] second half he helped us regain our composure and dominance and it led to a very good point in the end."

That very good point ensures Glory are still unbeaten on the road this season, despite it looking certain for over 80 minutes that their record would fall. 

Incredibly, they have now amassed 22 points on their travels this season. They tallied 23 points in both the 2016/17 and 2017/18 campaigns combined.

Castro

Maclaren chasing 32-year top flight record

The latest chapter in Perth's silverware assault overshadowed Jamie Maclaren's fairy-tale return to Victoria.

Maclaren has now scored in each of his first four Melbourne City matches, a feat only bettered by Robbie Slater's five for Sydney Croatia in 1987.


The 25-year-old had just 12 touches of the ball against Glory, but two of them were goals.

It means the Caltex Socceroo has scored City's last five goals in the competition. Clearly, City's six-match win-less streak is not a burden on the striker's shoulders.

Koutroumbis' road to recovery scales new heights

Newcastle Jets have had a mountain to climb in order to keep their finals hopes alive.

But it seems the Jets are finding no shortage of inspiration from young defender Johnny Koutroumbis.

The 20-year-old, diagnosed with cancer last October, underlined what an impressive road to recovery he has led after netting the opener in the Jets' 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory.

It could be a season-changing moment for Ernie Merrick's men.

Goalscorers old and new keep Sydney FC on track

You'll be hard pressed to find two goalscorers more content with their weekend's work than Reza Ghoochannejhad and Cameron Devlin.

The experienced Iranian marksman and rookie Sky Blues midfielder notched their maiden Hyundai A-League goals to help Sydney FC to a 2-0 win over Adelaide United on Friday.

It ensures Steve Corica's side are still in the hunt to chase down Perth, having reduced the leaders' advantage to just six points.