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Champs Five Points Clear As City Beat Newcastle
by Jeremy Ruane
Reigning Hyundai A-League champions Sydney FC have scooted five points clear of the chasing pack after action in the opening weekend in December saw third-placed Melbourne City come from behind to win 2-1 at second-placed Newcastle Jets.

The home team came out all guns blazing in front of 8,108 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium, with Joe Champness, Dimitri Petratos and Jason Hoffman all denied by fine Dean Bouzanis saves before Andrew Nabbout finally made the breakthrough just after the half-hour mark.

But Ross McCormack had the visitors on level terms from the penalty spot five minutes before half-time, and should have been given the chance to give City the lead from the twelve yard mark when Bruce Kamau was sent tumbling in the area.

Referee Shaun Evans thought otherwise, however, but had to award City's winner four minutes from time, as Manny Muscat's volleyed thunderbolt threatened to tear the net off the goal frame.

A goal on the stroke of half-time by Bobo proved suffice for Sydney to see off Adelaide United in front of 7,021 fans at Coopers Stadium, where the home team enjoyed the better of proceedings in all facets of play bar the scoreboard, which read 1-0 to the league leaders when the full time whistle blew.

Moving into fourth place after the weekend's action are Central Coast Mariners, for whom substitute Blake Powell struck the only goal of the game twelve minutes from time as they edged Perth Glory 1-0 in a game of few chances watched by 8,115 fans at Central Coast Stadium.

At ANZ Stadium, Western Sydney's winless streak continued as Brisbane Roar prevailed 2-0 in front of 8,215 fans, who saw the visitors score very much against the run of play on the stroke of half-time through Massimo Maccarone.

Half-way through the second half, the scorer turned provider as Brisbane doubled their lead, substitute Ivan Franjic curling home a beauty from twenty yards to condemn the league's draw specialists to their second successive defeat, one compounded by injuries to Oriol Riera - who headed wide inside the first six minutes of play - and Jaushua Sotirio.

That result meant that by the time they kicked off at Westpac Stadium, Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix were ninth and tenth respectively on the league ladder, and it was the visitors who moved up the table after coming from behind to down the home team 3-2 in front of 5,765 frustrated fans, who saw Wellington squander a two-goal advantage for the third time this season.
In truth, it would have been a travesty had the home team won this match. Melbourne missed loads of chances, starting in the seventh minute when James Troisi hit the post. Eleven minutes later, Besart Berisha was denied a goal by the Video Assistant Referee, who deemed him narrowly offside.

Two splendid headed goals in as many minutes either side of the half-hour mark by Andrija Kaludjerovic turned the game on its head, and propelled the marksman to the top of the Golden Boot charts, with seven goals.

But the visitors kept pounding away, and after Leroy George missed an absolute sitter just after the interval, Melbourne pulled one back through Berisha, then just as swiftly levelled as Goran Paracki headed the ball into his own net following a corner.

This roused the home side into action, but it was the visitors who carved out the better chances, including the decisive one from Troisi four minutes from time which fired Melbourne into sixth place and left Wellington, if they don't get a result or two before Christmas, in danger of dropping off the pace well before the season reaches its half-way point, given this round completed the first third of the campaign.

Melbourne Victory welcome Adelaide to Etihad Stadium next Friday night, while Saturday night sees a triple-header lined up, kicked off by Brisbane welcoming Wellington to CBUS Super Stadium in Robina, as the Gold Coast hosts A-League football for the first time since the days of Gold Coast United.

The Sydney derby at ANZ Stadium is the feature match of the round, with the triple-header wrapping up out west as Perth and Newcastle meet at NIB Stadium. And on Sunday night, Melbourne City and Central Coast square off at AAMI Park.

Details:
Adelaide United 0, Sydney FC 1 (Bobo (45)) HT 0-1
Central Coast Mariners 1 (B. Powell (78)), Perth Glory 0  HT 0-0
Newcastle Jets 1 (A. Nabbout (32)), Melbourne City 2 (R. McCormack (40 pen), M. Muscat (86))  HT 1-1
Wellington Phoenix 2 (A. Kaludjerovic (29, 31)), Melbourne Victory 3 (B. Berisha (54), "oggie" (57), J. Troisi (86))  HT 2-0
Western Sydney Wanderers 0, Brisbane Roar 2 (M. Maccarone (45), I. Franjic (66))  HT 0-1


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