Sydney FC soared to the top of the Isuzu UTE A-League summit but the Sky Blues’ 2-1 victory over Adelaide United was not without controversy.
Bobo proved to be the match winner at Coopers Stadium, where Stefan Mauk’s equaliser had cancelled out Elvis Kamsoba’s early opener on Friday night.
After Bobo put Sydney ahead with 17 minutes remaining, Adelaide had a penalty saved and another turned down by the referee as the visitors moved top of the standings.
KEEPUP followed on LIVE to bring you all the highlights, scores, analysis and biggest talking points.
- Liberty A-League: Adelaide United 3-0 Newcastle Jets
- Liberty A-League: Wellington Phoenix 0-2 Melbourne Victory
- Isuzu UTE A-League: Adelaide United 1-2 Sydney FC
‘He got out of jail massively’ – Donachie and Sydney fortunate not to be punished
Sydney made it three games unbeaten in the league to climb to the top of the table, but it was not without controversy during a wild finale to their fixture in Adelaide.
After Heward-Belle’s penalty heroics kept Adelaide at bay with two minutes of regulation remaining, the Reds felt they should’ve been awarded another spot-kick, this time for a stoppage-time foul on Hiroshi Ibusuki from James Donachie.
VAR urged the referee to look at the pitchside monitor, but Adam Kersey did not award a second penalty at the death.
Network 10 analysts Alex Brosque and Andy Harper were both incensed with the decision during Paramount+ post-game show.
“Speaking honestly, this for me is a penalty every day of the week,” Brosque said.
“The thing about it, Donachie wraps his arms around him and doesn’t give Ibusuki a chance to even attack the ball. He doesn’t have eyes for the ball himself.”
Harper added: “I’m not sure if we’re asking too much of the VAR, the start point of that freezeframe on the evidence they actually used, Donachie is out of position.
“The ball is about to be crossed, Donachie is not goal-side with his defender. He uses his arm to get himself into that position to start with.
“So for the referee to say afterwards they were both holding each other, I think just takes a snapshot. Sometimes these things, the truth comes out when you understand the sequence.
“He killed himself with his position and he got out of jail massively. I think it’s a penalty.”
‘Cheat sheet’ – Heward-Belle thanks coach after heroics
With Socceroo Andrew Redmayne on the bench, Heward-Belle was again in the thick of the action for Sydney, and boy did he produce the goods.
Often the bridesmaid but never the bride, Heward-Belle was the unlikely hero after saving Ibusuki’s 88th-minute penalty on the road.
On his late heroics, the unheralded 24-year-old told Paramount+: “The goalkeeper coach has helped me out immensely because he does his research and he watches all the players who take penalties.
“He has a little bit of a cheat sheet but just stoked to get the save. Big win for the boys.”
“It’s been tough in my career,” he continued. “I haven’t played a lot. Just have to take the opportunity as it comes. I love the club and he was away, so just an amazing feeling.”
ISUZU UTE A-LEAGUE: ADELAIDE UNITED 1-2 SYDNEY FC
Sydney soar to the ALM summit
Who would’ve though, amid all the criticism this season, that Sydney would be top?
Well that’s certainly the case after the Sky Blues took down Adelaide 2-1 at Coopers Stadium.
After surviving an eventful finale, Sydney are now top of the table – level on points with Western United, though they have played the most matches in the league, alongside fourth-placed Adelaide.
The closing stages between Adelaide and Sydney had it all.
Adelaide goalkeeper Joe Gauci did terrifically well to deny Bobo a second goal, keeping the Reds in the contest.
After that, the Reds were awarded a penalty following a foul on Mohamed Toure but Hiroshi’s 88th-minute penalty was saved by reserve keeper Heward-Belle.
There were appeals for an Adelaide penalty at the death but the referee opted against a spot-kick following a pitchside review.
GOAL 2-1: Bobo extends his red-hot streak against Adelaide
If you need a goal, it’s hard to look past Bobo.
Bobo has proven to be a reliable goalscorer time and time again, and the Brazilian veteran was at it again in the 73rd minute after Sydney had a goal disallowed moments earlier.
Sydney’s Bobo has scored seven goals and made one assist in his last six A-League Men games against Adelaide, finding the back of the net at least once in each of his last 4 games against them.
Reds dealt Goodwin blow to start the second half
Adelaide were delighted to have Goodwin back at their disposal after the Socceroos’ two World Cup qualifiers against Vietnam and Oman.
But his night lasted just 45 minutes, Goodwin succumbing to a foot injury.
Goodwin took his place on the bench after his foot swelled up like a “balloon” following a blocked shot before the break.
Adelaide almost take the lead before HT
After a slow start, the Reds really gained a foothold on proceedings and went close to hitting the front at the end of the first half.
A teasing cross from Javi Lopez picked out Goodwin, who fired a half-volley on target but it was pushed away by Sydney keeper Tom Heward-Belle four minutes prior to the interval.
GOAL 1-1: Mauk’s farewell goal?
Stefan Mauk has long been tipped to make the move to Japan, with the Adelaide star himself confirming talks had taken place.
In what could be his final home match as a Reds player, he brought Adelaide level with 32 minutes player, pouncing on the rebound after Japanese team-mate Hiroshi Ibusuki was denied.
Come for the goal, stay for the celebration
It’s definitely Kamsoba szn in the A-League Men.
He scored another stunner, but his celebrations have been even better!
GOAL 1-0: It is Elvis’ world, we’re just living in it
Elvis Kamsoba has been a man reborn since swapping Melbourne Victory for Sydney.
The flying Sydney winger maintained his red-hot form with a brilliant solo goal to gift the visitors a 10th-minute lead.
Sydney’s opener should not come as a surprise, given the Sky Blues have scored the most first-half goals in the A-League Men this term.
Form on Sydney’s side in Adelaide showdown
Opta sets the scene with their pre-match data facts:
- Sydney have won 10 of their last 15 A-League Men games against Adelaide, including their last two on the bounce and a 4-1 win in their last clash at Coopers Stadium (May 2021).
- Adelaide are undefeated in their last five A-League Men games (W3, D2), including wins in their last two games; the last time they went longer without a loss was a six-game win streak from February to March in 2021.
- Sydney have lost only one of their last eight regular season games as the away team on the day in the A-League Men (W4, D3); a 2-0 loss to Central Coast Mariners in December 2021 their only defeat in that time.
- Adelaide have allowed just 3.5 shots on target per game against them in the 2021-22 season, their fewest per game in a season in the last 10 campaigns.
- Sydney (11.6) and Adelaide (12.2) have conceded the fewest and third-fewest shots at goal respectively of any teams this campaign, with Melbourne City (12) ranked second.
- Sydney have scored eight first-half goals this A-League Men season, more than any other team and five more than Adelaide (3); the Sky Blues (57%) are the only team to have scored more than half of their total goals within the first halves of games this season.
- Craig Goodwin (33) is two goals shy of equalling Bruce Djite as the most prolific goal scorer in A-League Men history for Adelaide; he has scored five goals and made one assist in his last four games in the competition.
- Bobo has scored six goals and made one assist in his last five A-League Men games against Adelaide, finding the back of the net at least once in each of his last three games against them.
Reds welcome back Roo Goodwin
After his exploits for the national team, Australia international Craig Goodwin is back in the Adelaide line-up.
Lachlan Barr also makes his full debut for the Reds, who are five games unbeaten in the league.
As for Sydney, their line-up boasts Milos Ninkovic, in-form Anthony Caceres and Mustafa Amini.
LIBERTY A-LEAGUE: WELLINGTON PHOENIX 0-2 MELBOURNE VICTORY
Victory move back into top four
The Victory were keen to make a splash after their season came to a halt midway through January.
Despite the lack of match preparation, the Victory were too strong for the Phoenix as they leapfrogged Perth Glory into fourth position in the race to the finals.
Wellington remain bottom of the standings with just one point from 10 games.
Goal of the season… well almost!
Lia Privitelli almost scored the goal of the season.
In a stunning moment of individual brilliance, Privitelli picked up the ball deep in her own half and flew past three defenders in stoppage time.
But after all that hard work, she was denied by the post.
Eliadis knew she’d score
Prior to today, Eliadis had never scored in the A-League Women, but the 26-year-old ended her drought in the first half.
“I feel good. I was hoping that today coming on as 10, I would score. It happened so I’m excited and happy,” she told Paramount+ at half-time.
This is the first time Victory are playing since January 16, but you wouldn’t know, given the level of performance.
“[Head coach] Jeff [Hopkins] managed us and made sure at training we were getting a lot of running and touches of the ball,” Eliadis said. “Even though we had games off, the girls have looked sharp.”
Did the ball cross the line?
Victory came within a whisker of celebrating their third goal six minutes before half-time.
Claudia Bunge directed a shot towards goal and it beat the Phoenix goalkeeper but it was dramatically cleared off the line.
GOAL 2-0: Moment to remember for Eliadis
Wellington’s wait for a first ever win could be about to drag on after Victory’s Tiffany Eliadis netted her maiden goal.
Some neat movement around the penalty box ended in Eliadis volleying into the back of the net with the outside of her boot in the 23rd minute.
The Phoenix face an uphill battle.
GOAL 1-0: Goalkeeping howler gifts Victory the lead
The goalkeeper won’t want to see it again.
Alana Murphy whipped in a cross-cum-shot and Wellington keeper Lily Alfeld pushed her attempted save into her own net after 13 minutes.
Murphy and the Victory will take it!
Victory looking to control proceedings
To set the scene for tonight’s clash, here is some data goodness via Opta.
- This will be the first meeting between the Phoenix and Victory in the A-League Women; the Phoenix come into this game having led at half-time in two of their last three games but gone on to lose all three.
- Victory have won 12 of their last 13 A-League Women games as the away team on the day, including their last five on the bounce, keeping a clean sheet in eight of those 13 games.
- Victory have had 56% of possession throughout the 2021-22 season, the highest of any team, while no team has had less possession than Wellington (42%).
- Zoe McMeeken (Wellington) has made 40 tackles this season season, the most of any player and twice as many as any Victory player.
- Chidiac (Victory) has a passing accuracy of 80% from 66 attempts in the opposition half this A-League Women season, the highest of any player to have made at least 50 pass attempts in this zone.
Is tonight the night for Wellington?
Wellington Phoenix were left dejected after a heart-breaking 3-2 loss to Perth Glory on Monday, a result that left the competition’s newest team still searching for a maiden victory.
After so many close calls, Wellington’s clash with Melbourne Victory could finally be cause for celebration.
The Phoenix welcome Isabel Gomez into the starting XI as a replacement for Grace Wisnewski, who opted to sit out the game due to mental health reasons.
Victory – fifth in the standings and two points outside the top four – have the likes of Alex Chidiac and Maja Markovski in the XI for their first match since January 16.
LIBERTY A-LEAGUE: ADELAIDE UNITED 3-0 NEWCASTLE JETS
Much was made of Worts missing out on a hat-trick as star team-mate Dawber stepped up to make it 3-0 in the second half.
After Adelaide took another giant step towards their first finals berth, Player of the Match Worts was in a great mood post-game.
“Chelsie was always going to want that penalty,” Worts smiled as she spoke to Paramount+. “I’m not really one to fight over them. She is chasing the golden boot and fair enough. She won it, so I’m not going to put up a fight.”
Dawber took her tally to seven goals in the race for the Liberty A-League Golden Boot.
“I think I’ve been playing pretty well but overall, our whole team has been playing well. I’ve been getting the ball to score, so can’t complain,” Dawber said.
Reds roll on and level on points with City
Adelaide celebrated a third straight victory courtesy of Worts’ double.
The Reds are now level on points with second-placed Melbourne City, having now beaten Newcastle in three consecutive games for the first time in their history.
What a turnaround for Adelaide, who now have five wins in six matches in their pursuit of a first appearance in the Liberty A-League finals.
GOAL 3-0: Hat-trick denied as Dawber converts
On a hat-trick, all eyes swiftly turned to Worts after Adelaide were awarded a penalty 10 minutes from the end.
However, regular penalty-taker Chelsie Dawber stepped up and made no mistake from the spot.
A third consecutive victory looks within sight for Adelaide.
GOAL 2-0: Worts at the double
Worts was disappointed Adelaide did not add to their tally in the first half.
But, she and the Reds extended their lead with 14 minutes remaining – Worts drifting onto her left foot and guiding a shot across the path of Coelho.
Game, set a match?
Jets flying high to start the second half
Unlike the opening 45 minutes, the Jets have looked threatening early in the second period.
It seems Adelaide won’t have things all their own way, with a couple of chances already falling Newcastle’s way.
Tara Andrews had the pick of the chances after she found herself unmarked in the penalty area, however she could not steer her header on target.
Element of ‘disappointment’ for dominant Reds
Newcastle struggled to make much of an impact against Adelaide, who were absolutely dominant in the opening 45 minutes.
For goalscorer Worts, she was disappointed the hosts didn’t capitalise on their dominance with more goals.
“I think it was a good first half. We had really good control of the game,” Worts told Paramount+ at half-time.
“I don’t think they looked that dangerous and we did. Just a bit more clinical, probably could’ve had a couple more goals but a good first half.”
Worts added: “Personally I’m disappointed that I didn’t get more. As a team we’re definitely disappointed we didn’t get more.”
Woodwork denies free-kick specialist Condon
“Bend it like Beckham”. Emily Condon has already showcased her set-piece ability for Adelaide in 2021-22.
Condon came close to another memorable free-kick, but the Reds midfielder was denied by the post prior to half-time.
For now, it doesn’t matter with Adelaide taking a 1-0 lead into the main break.
GOAL 1-0: Adelaide get the goal they deserve
The contrast between the two sides has been stark, and unsurprisingly, it’s Adelaide who opened the scoring at Coopers Stadium.
Having kept the Reds at bay, Coelho had no answer as Fiona Worts curled her shot past the Newcastle keeper and into the back of the net after 24 minutes of action.
Worts continues her fine form. Prior to the contest, no player had created more scoring chances this season than Worts (22), with three of those 22 chances resulting in assists for Worts.
Nothing short of what Adelaide deserve.
Coelho comes to Newcastle’s rescue… again
If not for their goalkeeper Coelho, the Jets would be a couple of goals behind.
In complete control on home soil, Adelaide pounced on another defensive error but Coelho somehow saved a certain goal – the Jets shotstopper thwarting the Reds with her goal-line save in the 15th minute.
Reds on the front foot against nervy Newcastle
Talk about a less than convincing opening, Newcastle have been at sixes and sevens against Adelaide.
The Jets didn’t look comfortable at all in defence and they were fortunate the Reds were unable to capitalise, with Claire Coelho fifth-minute save helping to keep Adelaide at bay.
After treading water, the Jets have slowly started to find their feet.
Adelaide and Soaring Jets eyeing history
Here is everything you need to know about tonight’s showdown through Opta data.
- Adelaide have won four of their last six A-League Women games against Newcastle (L2), including their last two on the bounce; they have never won more than two consecutive games against the Jets in the competition.
- The Jets are unbeaten in their last five league games (W2, D3), the second time in their history they’ve gone five games without loss; a sixth straight game without defeat would set a new club record.
- Adelaide have scored 15 goals this A-League Women campaign, 3.1 more than their Expected Goals figure for the season; no team has outpaced their xG by more in the competition.
- No player has created more scoring chances in the 2021-22 season than Adelaide’s Fiona Worts (22), with three of those 22 chances resulting in assists for Worts.
- Kirsty Fenton (Newcastle) has made 3.8 interceptions per game this term, more than any other player in the competition and more than one per game more than Adelaide’s best Nanako Sasaki (2.5).
Top-four race heats up in Adelaide
The first of Friday’s doubleheader at Coopers Stadium sees Adelaide host Newcastle in a battle between third and sixth – the Jets are six points adrift of the Reds, though they have played two games less.
Adelaide are unchanged following back-to-back wins, while Newcastle are boosted by the inclusion of 11-time Australia international Gema Simon.