Friday recap: Penha, Davila dazzle in six-goal thriller, finals race tightens in Liberty A-League

The A-Leagues will host its first ever Unite Round this weekend, with every team – men’s and women’s – playing a special round across Sydney.

Unite Round got underway on Friday, with four matches spread across Leichhardt Oval and CommBank Stadium.

In the Liberty A-League, Melbourne Victory drew 1-1 with Perth Glory in the Unite Round opener, before Wellington Phoenix fell to a 2-1 defeat to Central Coast Mariners in the second of two games at Leichhardt Oval.

Meanwhile, in the Isuzu UTE A-League doubleheader at CommBank Stadium, Macarthur FC went toe-to-toe with Western United in an exhilarating 3-3 draw, before Western Sydney Wanderers edged Melbourne City 1-0 to wrap up the Friday-night action.

Click here to watch the A-Leagues LIVE on Paramount+!

Melbourne Victory 1-1 Perth Glory (Liberty A-League) – Leichhardt Oval

MATCH CENTRE: Click here for stats, updates, video and more
MATCH REPORT: Victory & Perth play out entertaining draw to open Unite Round

Perth Glory fought back to earn a point off Melbourne Victory in a 1-1 draw at Leichhardt Oval on Friday afternoon, kicking off the A-Leagues Unite Round in Sydney.

Victory took a first-half lead through Rachel Lowe’s sixth goal of the Liberty A-League season, but a Jamilla Rankin own goal after half-time brought Glory back on level terms.

Victory’s Matildas striker Emily Gielnik made her long-awaited return from a calf injury in the second half but her injection off the bench couldn’t inspire Victory to find a second goal as the two sides shared the spoils in the Unite Round curtain raiser.

The result brought an end to Victory’s three-game losing streak, and prevented Perth from closing in on league-leaders Melbourne City; Glory began the weekend six points behind City and will remain in second place through Unite Round after Friday’s draw extended their advantage over third-place Western United to four points.

Macarthur FC 3-3 Western United (Isuzu UTE A-League) – CommBank Stadium

MATCH CENTRE: Click here for stats, updates, video and more
MATCH REPORT: Hat-trick from Bulls star salvages point for Macarthur in six-goal thriller against Western United

Ulises Davila has salvaged a point for Macarthur FC in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Western United, scoring the third goal of his hat-trick in the 90th minute to ensure the spoils were shared at CommBank Stadium.

Ben Garuccio opened the scoring for Western in the opening three minutes, before two goals from Davila either side of half-time – which made him the club’s all-time leading goalscorer – gave the Bulls the lead in the opening Isuzu UTE A-League fixture of Unite Round.

Western continued to push for an equaliser and got their due reward, when Daniel Penha nodded home a leveller, before the Brazilian’s stunning long range strike in the 85th minute gave Western a much-needed victory.

Just when it looked like Western were coming away with all three points, Davila popped up again to score the equaliser as his header took a heavy deflection off Jacob Tratt and into the back of the net on Friday night.

It means Macarthur’s winless streak extends to six straight games, but have drawn their last three, meaning they remain in fifth place on the ladder, albeit having played two more games than nine other sides in the competition.

Meanwhile, Western will remain bottom of the ladder for at least another fortnight after their next round clash against Adelaide United was postponed, missing a golden opportunity in the process to jump Perth Glory heading into the rest of the round.

Wellington Phoenix 1-2 Central Coast Mariners (Liberty A-League) – Leichhardt Oval

MATCH CENTRE: Click here for stats, updates, video and more
MATCH REPORT: Teenager fires Central Coast to impressive comeback victory over Wellington

Central Coast Mariners have come from behind to claim an impressive 2-1 win over Wellington Phoenix at Leichhardt Oval on Friday night.

Emma Main opened the scoring for the ‘Nix, before two goals from Rola Badawiya and 17-year-old Peta Trimis overturned the Mariners’ early deficit before half-time.

Central Coast held strong in the second-half to secure their fourth win of the season, with a resolute defensive display and complete a clean sweep of Paul Temple’s side in the process.

The win takes Central Coast into seventh within goal difference of sixth-placed Melbourne Victory on the Liberty A-League ladder, with a game in hand still to be played against Sydney FC on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, Wellington have lost four of their last five games and sit only a point clear of the Mariners, and could fall out of the top six if both Western Sydney Wanderers and Newcastle Jets claim wins this weekend.

Melbourne City 0-1 Western Sydney Wanderers (Isuzu UTE A-League) – CommBank Stadium

MATCH CENTRE: Click here for stats, updates, video and more
MATCH REPORT: Young Wanderers lead the charge to beat Premiers as Socceroo makes remarkable return

Western Sydney Wanderers brought an end to Melbourne City’s six-game unbeaten run on Friday night, with Dylan Pierias’ first-half strike the difference in a 1-0 win at CommBank Stadium.

Pierias broke the deadlock after a classy assist from 18-year-old Alex Badolato on a night when emerging central defender Alex Bonetig and 20-year-old Oscar Priestman were all heavily involved in Western Sydney’s best play.

The Wanderers escaped a major scare in second-half stoppage time when referee Jonathan Barreiro halted play to assess a potential handball in the box from Josh Brillante; the on-field referee elected not to grant the penalty as City were deprived the chance to equalise from the spot. 

City will take positives from their Unite Round clash with the Wanderers, with the return of Andrew Nabbout just four months after an Achilles tendon injury putting a silver lining on the slender defeat.