Liberty A-League R18 Talking Points: Sensational return of Aussie star who’s a Matilda & a doctor

Join Niav Owens, Grace Gill, Teo Pellizzeri and Sophie Harding for Dub Zone.

These were the key talking points after Round 18 in the Liberty A-League, headlined by a star performance from a Matildas star and the red-hot form of the league leaders.

Dynamic duo firing Western United closer to a maiden Premiership

Western United are now four points clear at the top of the Liberty A-League ladder after making it six wins in a row with a 4-2 defeat of Canberra United on Friday afternoon.

Central to their recent success has been the partnership of Chloe Logarzo and Hannah Keane, with the latter netting a hat-trick against Canberra to take her tally to nine goals for the campaign.

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“It was a great performance from Hannah,” said Matilda and analyst Grace Gill on Dub Zone. “I think we saw a relatively slow start to the year from Hannah Keane.

“She wasn’t in the goalscoring form and she also started the season out a little wider and Chloe was in the middle.

“In recent times, Kat Smith has moved to two nines at the top and that combination between the two is working so well but it’s really working to Hannah’s strengths as well.

“As a striker there’s nothing better than when you have a midfielder to play you good service,” added Wanderers striker Sophie Harding when discussing the Keane/Logarzo combo.

“I think when you have a good understanding with a player it definitely helps a lot and they clearly have that as it seems to be working.”

Logarzo also now has nine goals for the campaign after netting from the penalty spot and the the duo’s form has been crucial to Western’s surge up the ladder.

Western’s title credentials will be given another detailed examination in Round 19 when they face Sydney FC away in a repeat of last season’s Grand Final this weekend.

Should Western make it seven wins in a row then they will equal the club record set by Mark Torcaso’s record from their maiden campaign in the Liberty A-League.

Will Heyman be at the Olympics?

That is the burning question after Michelle Heyman returned from six years in the international wilderness to score five goals in two games for the Matildas.

The Canberra United star and Golden Boot leader was on target in the opening leg of Australia’s Olympic Games qualifier against Uzbekistan before incredibly scoring four goals in a 10-0 rout in Melbourne last week.

Having now punched their ticket to the 2024 Paris Games, it remains to be seen whether Heyman will be involved at the major tournament.

Tony Gustavsson’s Matildas will have a couple of friendly fixtures before July’s Olympics but the 35-year-old A-Leagues icon has already staked her claim emphatically.

“I don’t think there was much more she could’ve done to do exactly that,” Gill said on Dub Zone when asked about Heyman’s performances in the two-legged play-off.

“Her performance, obviously finishing with five goals in two games is extraordinary. Her fitness, her speed. She hasn’t lost any pace. 35 years young, but she has been a really key part that I think has knitted the forward line of the Matildas together really well.

“Yes, there may be a question mark against better opposition in respect to Uzbekistan.

“But I think Heyman is in fantastic form, both for Canberra and the Matildas. Look, I think she has one foot on the plane.”

Goad returns in spectacular fashion as Victory hit top gear

An inspired performance from the returning Beattie Goad helped fire Melbourne Victory to a 5-3 win over Wellington Phoenix in Round 18, a result which keeps them in the top four.

Jeff Hopkins’ side are now seven games unbeaten in the Liberty A-League, winning four and drawing three of those matches, while the return of Goad following a leave of absence to focus on her medical studies has given them a real injection of class at the perfect moment.

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“It was a great re-introduction for Beattie Goad,” said Paramount+ commentator and former Matilda Grace Gill. “And I think even more importantly so that Mackenzie Weinert has departed the squad.

“But Beattie Goad, six weeks away doing her final exams to become a doctor just as a back-up plan in means of a great footballer. But this is the Victory I think we expected to see at the start of the season.

“When you look at the team on paper from day dot everyone went well this is a team packed with Matildas, how many Matildas appearances are on this field.

“Finally we’re starting to see the players hit their stride, combinations start to work. In the first half of the season that just wasn’t coming together and it was falling short.”

Teo Pellizzeri added: “Are we sure what sort of medical degree Beatie Goad was doing? To return that sharp, are we sure it wasn’t just entirely personal sports science?”.

With just four games left to play before finals Victory face an Original Rivalry clash with Adelaide United in Round 19 where a win could see them move into second spot on the ladder.

Wanderers left to lick their wounds after Derby defeat

Western Sydney Wanderers striker Sophie Harding concedes her side were well and truly second best during Saturday’s Sydney Derby defeat at CommBank Stadium, a result which now leaves them a point outside the top six.

Goals from Mackenzie Hawkesby and Caley Tallon-Henniker coupled with a red card for Wanderers defender Vicky Bruce saw the Sky Blues run out 2-0 winners over their fiercest rivals in the West.

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“It was definitely something we said after the game,” said Harding when speaking on Dub Zone. “They’re extremely hard to break down it feels like they have players everywhere.

“They’re very well disciplined and the better team on the day.”

There was a contentious moment in the derby when Wanderers defender Vicky Bruce was sent off 18 minutes from the end for the denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Bruce and Western Sydney were stunned by the decision but Football Australia’s Independent Match Review Panel have since overturned the red card after considering the ‘Obvious Error’ application.

The American is now free to face Canberra United in Round 19.

“I think it’s a pretty stiff call on Vicky Bruce,” Gill said on Dub Zone before Monday’s verdict. “In my mind there’s still a second defender there to come across and cover and in that case, the Wanderers are really hard done by.”

The Matildas star pulling the strings: ‘Finally starting to hit her stride’

After her international exploits with the Matildas, Tameka Yallop inspired Brisbane Roar’s 2-0 upset over title contenders Melbourne City on Saturday.

Yallop started at Perry Park, where she scored to help heap further misery on a slumping City side.

Her game-breaking strike was an exclamation point on an imperious all-round display from the Matilda whose return from Australia’s successful Olympic qualification series came with a performance to savour in the Liberty A-League.

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“What we’re starting to see with these key Matildas across the league, and I mentioned that about Alex Chidiac as well, but definitely Tameka Yallop for Brisbane Roar is finally starting to hit her stride and pull the strings in the middle of the park,” Gill said on Dub Zone.

“We know what she does in the national team – she is used as a utility and versatile. She has a different responsibility with Brisbane. She has to pull the younger girls up to her level. She has to lead the charge and be the one who is the architect behind everything for Brisbane.

“What we saw today was exactly that role.”

‘One of the great achievements’

There was a moment to remember for Central Coast Mariners’ Tiarna Karambasis in the club’s 2-0 win over Adelaide United.

Karambasis scored her maiden A-Leagues goal in the midst of her first season in the league.

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The 23-year-old partnered Ashley Irwin in the heart of defence as the Mariners cemented their spot in the top six.

It is something that has highlighted Emily Husband’s work as head coach of Central Coast, according to Dub Zone panellist Teo Pellizzeri.

“I found it so interesting that Em Husband in the feature interview on the A-Leagues website during the week spoke about her sort of self-doubt about herself as a coach. About learning to believe, particularly when it came to putting a squad together from scratch,” Pellizzeri said.

“Karambasis, a Queenslander who’s moved to Gosford for her first crack at the A-League as a teenager, has been thrown into the deep end due to Tarryn King tearing an ACL and going out for the season.

“Yet this is one of the great achievements of Em Husband this season. That she has seamless put in a first-season player next to Ash Irwin – another first-season player. They have a defence that will take them into the top six.”

Glory goalkeeper to the rescue in Newcastle

Newcastle Jets had 40 shots, yet they could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Perth Glory.

Perth had goalkeeper Morgan Aquino to thank for taking a point back to Western Australia following her performance on Sunday.

Aquino produced a save-of-the-season contender at the death to ensure the seventh-placed Glory stayed level on 24 points with sixth-placed Newcastle in the race for finals football.

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“I actually really rate Morgan Aquino. I talk about her a lot when I talk goalkeepers,” Harding said on Dub Zone.

“She’s extremely good at shot-stopping.

“My goals against her, one was a one-v-one I knew I had to put it away hard and low. I know she’s very good in the air.”