It was a round full of goals but also some fine individual performances as the race for the Premier's Plate got even tighter. Here's Tom Stelzer's wrap of Round 23.
Goalkeeper, Newcastle Jets
Kept his side in the game with a number of great saves.
Defender, Perth Glory
Impressive all over and sensational delivery.
Defender, Western Sydney Wanderers
Commanding in defence.
Defender, Wellington Phoenix
A composed and confident return.
Defender, Brisbane Roar
A standout in a great team performance.
Midfielder, Melbourne City
Helped contain the Adelaide attack.
Midfielder, Brisbane Roar
Chief orchestrator of Brisbane’s best play.
Midfielder, Wellington Phoenix
Played a key role in two of Wellington’s goals.
Forward, Sydney FC
Sydney’s only bright spark.
Striker, Brisbane Roar
A hattrick in a rampant Roar win.
Striker, Perth Glory
Scored for the fifth match in a row.
Adelaide United 0 Melbourne City 1
Melbourne secured a late victory to end Adelaide’s unbeaten run.
In the immortal words of Nelly Furtado, all good things come to an end and so it proved for Adelaide, whose 14-match undefeated streak finished thanks to a sensational Nick Fitzgerald goal.
It was a run that saw the Reds rise to the top of the table and looked set to continue after a scoreless first half. In the 71st minute, Aaron Mooy slid in the incoming Fitzgerald, who cut back and curled a left-footed beauty into the far corner.
It was an uncharacteristically toothless Adelaide performance against a Melbourne side that looked relatively secure and leaves both teams comfortably in the top four.
Sydney FC 1 Wellington Phoenix 3
Wellington cruised past a hapless Sydney side at Allianz Stadium.
Chasing a much-needed victory to revive their finals chances, it was a Sydney side with a shakier defence than Oscar Pistorius and they were soon made to pay.
In the 11th minute, Michael McGlinchey’s rolling cross wasn’t cleared and the loose ball fell to Blake Powell, who spun and hit the ball into the bottom corner. Two minutes later, Roly Bonevacia put through Hamish Watson and he slotted it past Vedran Janjetovic.
Another low cross from McGlinchey found Watson free on the penalty spot and his comical mishit made it to Bonevacia to guide in. Sydney mounted a comeback of sorts in the second half and when the Phoenix failed to clear Robert Stambolziev’s cross, Filip Holosko pounced to make it 3-1.
That was as close as Sydney got and the side were left bemoaning a truly dreadful defensive performance that puts Graham Arnold under big pressure.
Brisbane Roar 5 Melbourne Victory 0
Brisbane thrashed a disappointing Victory side to return to the top of the table.
Never one to be upstaged by their Big Blue rivals, Victory put in a defensive display the match of Sydney’s earlier effort and found themselves behind after 18 minutes. Brandon Borello’s heavy touch miraculously made it to Jamie Maclaren, who guided it in at the back post.
He had a second minutes later after Dimi Petratos’s beautiful pass allowed Maclaren to smartly lob the onrushing Danny Vukovic. In the second half, Corey Brown found a first A-League goal courtesy of a heavily-deflected shot and then Corona was on hand to make it 4-0 after Maclaren saw his shot saved by Vukovic.
The striker had his hat-trick late on after he reacted quickest to a pinballing Brisbane corner. It was a brilliant attacking performance from Brisbane that leaves Melbourne hanging on in sixth, three ahead of Sydney.
Perth Glory 4 Central Coast Mariners 0
Perth dispatched a wayward Central Coast to consolidate their finals aspirations.
It was a Mariners side plagued by the kind of ill-discipline that makes Diego Costa look like a well-natured choirboy and it only took four minutes for Perth to capitalise. Diego Castro played in Chris Harold, who was illegally felled by Tomislav Uskok and Castro scored from the spot.
They had to wait until the second half to extend their lead when Andy Keogh headed in Josh Risdon’s pinpoint cross. Luis Garcia and Mitch Austin both received second yellows for a pair of poor challenges and Keogh had his second after Risdon won a second penalty.
Harold got in on the fun in injury time after another brilliant Risdon cross found him six yards out.
Newcastle Jets 0 Western Sydney Wanderers 1
Western Sydney held on against Newcastle to join Brisbane at the top.
Jaushua Sotirio scored the only goal after 17 minutes, getting on the end of Mark Bridge’s cutback to rifle into the roof of the net. The Wanderers dominated but failed to kill off the game, despite the better chances.
Bridge was wrongly carded for simulation before Nigel Boogaard saw his header crash against the crossbar and even goalkeeper Mark Birighitti had a shot blocked in the final seconds. But the Wanderers held on to effectively end Newcastle’s chances of finishing in the top six.