A-League: Melbourne Victory Close Gap On Sydney FC But Is It Too Late?

GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 19: Daniel Georgievski of the Victory celebrates the win with fans during the round 22 A-League match between the Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory at Central Coast Stadium on February 19, 2017 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)
A-League: Melbourne Victory Close Gap On Sydney FC But Is It Too Late?

A significant breakthrough took place in Round 20 of the 2016-17 Hyundai A-League when a 3-0 victory for Kevin Muscat’s Melbourne Victory over Paul Okon’s Central Coast Mariners at the Central Coast Stadium was juxtaposed by the first-ever defeat for Graham Arnold’s Sydney FC, a 1-0 upset by the Western Sydney Wanderers at ANZ Stadium. A Besart Berisha brace (25′, 90′ + 1′) combined with 58th minute insurance from James Troisi sunk the Mariners, while a rare goal from the Wanderers talisman Brendon Santalab (26′) gave Sydney FC a massive blotter that could make the league title a race.

Or will it? Sydney FC remain eight points ahead of the Victory for the Premiership plate and with just seven rounds to go, the Sky Blues remain in the hunt for the prize. But with this defeat coming on the heels of another crunch-time clash with another upset-minded club in Melbourne City at AAMI Park (the Victory host Adelaide United at the same venue the next day), there is reason to believe that this might still be a race and it might surprisingly come down to the wire.

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1 Sydney FC 20 14 5 1 41 10 +31 47 Qualification to AFC Champions League group stage and Finals series
2 Melbourne Victory 20 12 3 5 42 24 +18 39 Qualification to AFC Champions League second preliminary round and Finals series
3 Melbourne City 20 8 6 6 35 28 +7 30 Qualification to Finals series
4 Brisbane Roar 20 7 9 4 27 25 +2 30
5 Perth Glory 20 7 7 6 38 37 +1 28
6 Western Sydney Wanderers 20 5 9 6 24 29 −5 24
7 Newcastle Jets 20 5 6 9 26 33 −7 21
8 Wellington Phoenix 20 5 4 11 23 34 −11 19
9 Central Coast Mariners 20 5 4 11 23 38 −15 19
10 Adelaide United 20 3 5 12 16 37 −21 14
Updated to match(es) played on 19 February 2017. Source: A-League
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored.

“We’re definitely going to keep fighting for top spot,” Troisi said to Fox Sports. “As long as we focus on ourselves and play the way we want to play, when we win that’s what it’s all about. We’re very happy. There’s a lot of tough games coming up, for the other teams as well, so it will be interesting.”

“It’s a good test to be honest,” said Sydney FC’s Alex Brosque. “The reality is we’ve lost one game all season. “For (Wanderers), they’ve needed something this year and they got a good win so good on them. But we’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing all year (which is) playing well. We’ll pick ourselves up for Melbourne City and get three points over there.

“I think if you carry on winning, or not losing, you’re doing well. Unfortunately tonight a couple of decisions didn’t go our way, but we’ve had some go for us previously, so we live with what happened tonight. We will bounce back, have a good week at training and go down for a big one in Melbourne.”

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Jo-Ryan Salazar is a writer for The Stoppage Time, a soccer blog powered by Azteca Soccer. A supporter of the Los Angeles Galaxy since 1996 and a committed supporter since 2002, Jo-Ryan also follows Chelsea FC, Melbourne Victory, FC Tokyo and Paris Saint-Germain. Apart from soccer, Jo-Ryan is an administrative assistant for a local nonprofit in Long Beach, California and also does photography, photo-editing and fictional writing.

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