Heroic Moments: Toivonen breaking Hyundai A-League striking norm with brains and brawn

And to think Ola Toivonen cautioned in November that he was not a goal scorer by trade.

Fans of Melbourne Victory - and indeed the 32-year-old Swede himself - must surely be feasting on those words.

The Victory forward is enjoying his most prolific season in front of goal in eight years, boasting an enviable strike rate of a goal every 99.4 minutes, and is leaving Hyundai A-League striking royalty in the dust.

With one inch-perfect free kick in Victory’s 2-1 Big Blue defeat of Sydney FC on Saturday, Toivonen became the quickest player the club’s history to reach 10 goals, eclipsing the 19-game record shared by Archie Thompson and Besart Berisha.

Although nine of those 10 goals have arrived inside the box, he has not, unlike Thompson and Berisha, made a living through killer penalty area instinct.

Rather, the former Toulouse man influences the game in all areas of the field, and his role as a finisher and creator in duality was captured perfectly in the goals that sent Victory to a third straight Big Blue win.

His sumptuously-struck opener from the dead ball even took himself by surprise, while a vintage piece of centre forward play left Ben Warland on the ground in the build up to James Troisi’s second, and had Kevin Muscat purring post-match.

"I [watched] a lot of football this weekend, majority of it international, and I don't think I'll see a bit of brilliance like that, for him to bring that ball down like he did [for Troisi's goal],” said the Victory boss.

''If [Lionel] Messi scores a free kick like that as well this weekend, the world will be raving about it," he added.


Muscat must be thrilled with how swiftly Toivonen has quite literally risen to the challenge of the Hyundai A-League, particularly in the recent weeks which have seen opposition defenders take more designed swipes at his prized Swedish battering-ram.

On Saturday, he was involved in more duels and fouls than any other player on the field and, despite registering the second fewest touches of any Victory player, mustered up the two match-winning moments.

It cuts an intriguing point of difference to Golden Boot candidate and Sydney FC nemesis Adam Le Fondre, a pure penalty box predator who operates predominantly on the chances he is fed, but was well marshalled by the Victory defence on the weekend.

Toivonen is proving nearly impossible to mobilise no matter the tangible impact he has on a contest.

He is a colossal, 1.89 metre fulcrum upon which Victory’s quest for silverware rests.

ROUND 16: Toivonen’s sublime free-kick sparks Victory to claim Big Blue bragging rights
TALKING POINTS: Are Melbourne Victory becoming Big Blue supremos?
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Check who made the cut for Round 16

Taggart cool in chaos to inspire Roar’s epic late turnaround

Out of all the epic turnarounds we’ve seen throughout Hyundai A-League history, Brisbane Roar fans can attest to being part of their fair share.

And while Friday's 2-2 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers didn't have as much on the line as the 2011 Grand Final against Central Coast Mariners, where Roar famously scored two late goals deep into the second half of extra time, it was still a stoppage-time heist of epic proportions.

The comeback was inspired almost solely by Adam Taggart, who snapped a three-match run without a goal with a bullet header in the last play of the match, having teed up Tobias Mikkelsen with a cute back-heel just a few minutes earlier.

ROUND 16: Taggart steals Brisbane a point in stunning injury-time heist

An answer to Adelaide’s striking void?

Taggart’s last-ditch intervention wasn’t the only stoppage-time header to seal a dramatic turnaround on the weekend.

George Blackwood also shares that honour, having gotten off the mark for the season to help Adelaide United defeat Central Coast Mariners 2-1 on Sunday.

With Adelaide currently short on striking firepower, Blackwood’s winner might just be an unlikely emergence which propels Marco Kurz’s side to a new level.

ROUND 16: Blackwood hits stoppage-time winner to break Central Coast hearts
KURZ: Adelaide boss lauds attitude after overcoming Mariners hurdle

A remarkable clearance all in vain

Had Blackwood not popped up at the death, this incredible piece of defensive work from Kye Rowles might have seen the Mariners depart the City of Churches with a credible point.

Rowles made a remarkable dash to the goal line to lift Craig Goodwin’s goal-bound effort over the line late in the opening half but unfortunately, he and Aidan O’Neill let Blackwood slip through their grasp late in the day.

ROUND 17: How to watch the Hyundai A-League

A fine night for Phoenix's Pole in goal 

What an addition Filip Kurto has been to the Hyundai A-League.

Wellington Phoenix’s enigmatic Polish goalkeeper was quite the find from Mark Rudan, and he enjoyed arguably his best match for the Kiwi club so far in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Melbourne City.

Kurto continually repelled a late onslaught from the visitors, with a remarkable close-range reaction save from Kearyn Baccus among the best.

It’s now four shutouts for Kurto in the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 campaign, doubling the Phoenix’s tally from last season.

ROUND 16: Williams strike and Kurto heroics lead Phoenix to tense win over City

Ominous signs as mesmeric Castro breaks surprising drought

Diego Castro has been managed carefully throughout the year by Tony Popovic but looks to be reaching top gear again, as shown in Perth Glory’s 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets on Sunday.

The Spanish wizard was at his near untouchable best throughout the match, evidenced by an incisive dart forward and gorgeous touch which laid on the opening goal for Andy Keogh.

Somewhat incredibly, Castro’s assist for Keogh breaks a drought of 16 matches in which he failed to assist a goal, the longest streak in his Hyundai A-League career.

ROUND 16: Keogh and Kilkenny on target as Glory rediscover mojo against Newcastle