Sky Blues hit Victory for six

Sydney FC humiliated great rivals Melbourne Victory with a 6-1 A-League semi-final win to qualify for next week's decider against Perth Glory.

The Sky Blues scored three times in each half at Jubilee Stadium to claim their biggest win in the Big Blue and gain some measure of revenge for what happened to them last season.

Victory beat them 3-2 after extra time a year ago at the same stage in a controversial game, denying Graham Arnold the chance to bow out by winning the A-League treble.

While the Sky Blues had avoided talking of revenge in the lead-up to the semi-final, they did admit after the stunning win that it had been a factor for them.

"I did mention it in the changing room before we went out," said coach Steve Corica. "I've kept it quiet all week but there's a lot of boys that were there last year and it obviously hurt us to lose the way we did – they wanted to put it right and they did that tonight."

Things went badly for Victory from the start, their usually reliable keeper Lawrence Thomas dropping a corner in the third minute and seeing the ball cross the line off Aaron Calver.

Although Sydney FC had to wait almost until half-time to add to their lead, the fact that they netted twice in the final few minutes of the half gave them a healthy cushion.

Alex Brosque netted from close range to double their advantage and, in injury time, a shot deflected past Thomas off Leigh Broxham for an own goal to send the home supporters into ecstasy.

It was impossible at that stage to see a way back for Victory and, when they let in two more goals in the space of five minutes midway through the second half, the rest of the match was academic.

Adam Le Fondre netted the first from the penalty spot, having been brought down in the area, and the English striker was again on target to make it 5-0.

Le Fondre had ended the regular season second in the A-League Golden Boot standings with 16 goals, two behind Wellington Phoenix's Roy Krishna.

Two minutes from time Milos Ninkovic added a sixth goal for the home side to further embarrass Victory and Swede Ola Toivonen did not celebrate when he headed home for Muscat's team in injury time.

Sydney FC are 1/1 to win the Grand Final, with Perth Glory 4/5. The Sky Blues are 19/10 to win in 90 minutes, with Perth 7/5 and the draw 12/5.

Antonis eyeing Big Blue success

Melbourne Victory midfielder Terry Antonis is relishing the chance to play in another Big Blue semi-final on Sunday, a year on from his redemption against Sydney FC.

One of the worst moments in Antonis' career happened in last year's semi-final at Allianz Stadium when he scored an own goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Victory were only seconds away from beating his former club and booking their place in the decider against Newcastle Jets, but instead they were forced to go into extra-time after it finished 2-2.

Antonis went from villain to hero in extra-time, scoring the clinching goal to clinch Kevin Muscat's side's spot in a Grand Final where they beat the Jets.

Last year's Finals Series meeting with the Sky Blues saw Victory go in as the underdogs, since their rivals had secured a second consecutive Premiers' Plate.

Muscat's team again go into this one at a disadvantage as they will be on the road with Sydney FC having finished two points above them in second spot.

While Steve Corica's side had last weekend off, Victory had to overcome Wellington Phoenix in an elimination final to book their trip to Jubilee Stadium.

Speaking of last year's semi-final, Antonis said: "They are crazy memories to have. But you have to move on from what happened and enjoy this weekend and go there with the same mentality that we have had all season.

"I was disappointed to score the own goal, but the main thing is that we got the winner and went on to win the Grand Final – hopefully this weekend us as a team, we can do the same."

Antonis, who played 69 games for Sydney FC at the start of his career, says he always has an extra spring in his step ahead of a Big Blue clash.

"For me it's like the A-League's original derby; two big clubs playing against each other, there's always been good games between the two," he added.

Victory are 12/5 to win their semi-final against Sydney FC in normal time, with Sydney 21/20 and the draw 5/2.

View all Soccer betting

Socceroos places up for grabs

Australia coach Graham Arnold expects up to six A-League players to be ready to step up to international level within the next year.

A couple of players from the domestic league could be included in the Socceroos squad to take on South Korea in a friendly next month.

Arnold says he won't be picking all the players who were in his squad at the Asian Cup at the start of the year, as he wants to test some inexperienced players.

Places are up for grabs over the last two weeks of the A-League Finals Series.

"This top-six series is about pushing their case forward again – they have got two weeks and big games," said the coach.

"When you see these types of players, you see how they handle the pressure and deal with it during the finals series, and that sends a strong signal as well.

"I have seen some other players who you would like to see how they perform – they are performing well at A-League level but you would like to see how they perform at international level."

He said "one or two" were possibly ready to play international football, but by this time next year it could be half a dozen.

Arnold revealed he is hoping long-time team leader Mark Milligan will stay on and play for at least another year as the Socceroos look to the 2020 World Cup in Qatar.

"I expect Millsy (Mark Milligan) to stay on; I have not heard anything from him, I will have a conversation with him," he said.

"If he's performing well and he wants to keep playing, why wouldn't we keep him for at least one more year to help the growth of the Socceroos?"

Meanwhile, Mark Milligan's Hibernian are 3/1 to win their next game against Kilmarnock, who are 19/20 with the draw 23/10. Hibernian are 9/1 to win 1-0.

View all Soccer betting

Metcalfe tipped as star of the future

Captain Scott Jamieson has identified teenage midfielder Connor Metcalfe as a potential star for Melbourne City, as they look to regroup for next season.

City saw their A-League finals campaign falter at the first hurdle when they lost 1-0 away to Adelaide United in Sunday's elimination final.

Coach Warren Joyce's future at the club is uncertain following the end of his second campaign in charge, and there are bound to be major changes to the squad for 2019/20.

The joint-leading goalscorers of this season, Ritchie De Laet and Riley McGree, will both be returning to their parent clubs at the end of their loan deals – the Belgian to Aston Villa and McGree to Club Brugge.

Striker Shayon Harrison, who scored four goals in his 10 games after signing in mid-season from Tottenham Hotspur, will head back to the Premier League side.

Luke Brattan and Bart Schenkeveld will consider offers in Asia and around the A-League, while keeper Eugene Galekovic may retire.

Jamieson, who is signed up for another two seasons, feels the next player to emerge could be defender Metcalfe who managed just five substitute appearances this campaign.

He has the chance to be the next breakout star after departed Socceroos winger Daniel Arzani, said the skipper.

Speaking of the 19-year-old, Jamieson added: "Connor for me, he's going to be special. I don't talk up players – I didn't talk up Daniel last year but, for me, Connor, I rate him really highly.

"Connor has the attributes to really stamp his authority inside the A-League and then push on to bigger things."

City finished fifth in the league table, five points inside the Finals Series places.

Meanwhile, minor premiers Perth Glory are 6/5 to win the Grand Final.

The Glory are 4/6 to win their semi-final against Adelaide United, who are 4/1 with the draw 14/5.

View all Soccer betting

Vargas among six released

Venezuelan midfielder Ronald Vargas is among six Newcastle Jets players to be told they won't be retained for next season.

All the six have come to the end of their contracts after Ernie Merrick's team missed out on the Finals Series.

Full-back Daniel Georgievski, who has played 42 times for the club over the past two seasons, is among the departures as is Brazilian forward Jair.

The others are Jake Adelson, Kwabena Appiah and Nick Cowburn, who has been with Newcastle since 2014 when he made his debut as a 19-year-old and has made 67 appearances.

Vargas missed most of last season with injury before returning for the Finals Series when the Jets were beaten by Melbourne Victory in the Grand Final. He leaves after scoring seven goals this season from 23 appearances.

Jair only scored twice in his 20 games for Newcastle, having joined on a free transfer before the start of the season, while midfielder Appiah played just once after being signed as an injury replacement player in mid-season.

The Jets finished runners-up to Sydney FC last season when they won 15 games, but this time around they were five points off the top six.

Merrick thanked the departing players for their contribution, saying: "Each of these players have been model professionals, great characters, and made a positive contribution to this club during their time here.

"I'd like to thank them for their efforts and on behalf of everyone at the Jets, wish them the very best for the next step in their careers."

Meanwhile, minor premiers Perth Glory are 11/10 to win the Grand Final. Australia are 250/1 to win the 2020 World Cup.

Glory end with five-star display

Andy Keogh scored twice in the first half to set Perth Glory on their way to a 5-0 victory against Wellington Phoenix in the final game of the A-League regular season.

The defeat means Wellington drop to sixth in the final standings and will have to travel to Melbourne Victory in the first week of the Finals Series.

For the Glory, who had already secured the Premiers' Plate, it was an 18th win of the campaign as they finished eight points clear of runners-up Sydney FC.

Phoenix coach Mark Rudan opted to rest six starters including Golden Boot winner Roy Krishna and skipper Andrew Durante. Had they done any better than losing to Perth by two goals it would have meant an elimination final away to Adelaide United, who they have not beaten in four years.

That prospect virtually disappointed inside the first half hour when Keogh netted a brace.

The Irish striker first converted after Diego Castro struck the crossbar, then seven minutes later he headed past back-up keeper Oli Sail from a Jason Davidson cross.

Keogh launched the move that led to the third goal on 51 minutes, with Castro slotting home from Ivan Franjic's cross.

Perth made it 4-0 midway through the second half as Castro played a through-ball for Chris Ikonomidis to run onto and drill a shot past Sail. The effort was initially flagged for offside but then awarded by the VAR.

With seven minutes left Brendon Santalab, who has confirmed he will retire at the end of the season, stepped clear of his marker and tapped in Glory's fifth.

Rudan said after the game: "We used the game for our own purposes and we got what we needed out of the game as far as I'm concerned. The result [is] irrelevant.

"We knew what we had to do today and there were some things that worked and some that didn't but again most of the guys who started have not had much game time this year. No problems."

Wellington are 20/1 to win the Grand Final while Australia are 250/1 to win the 2020 World Cup.

Victory finish off with a win

A header from Swedish striker Ola Toivonen earned Melbourne Victory a 1-0 win in their final round A-League clash away to Western Sydney.

The reigning premiers, who had lost two of their previous three games, will go into the Finals Series boosted by their ANZ Stadium success.

They were guaranteed to finish third regardless of the result, but coach Kevin Muscat had wanted to return to winning ways before they hosted an elimination final next weekend.

Keisuke Honda volleyed just wide in the sixth minute before Toivonen notched his 13th goal of the campaign midway through the first half, heading home powerfully from a Thomas Deng cross.

When Wanderers threatened an equaliser, keeper Matt Acton bravely smothered at the feet of Alexander Baumjohann.

The visitors had two more chances before the interval, with Raul Baena curling a strike over and Georg Niedermeier heading wide.

Bruce Kamau was denied by the legs of Acton early in the second half as Western Sydney began to get the upper hand.

Kosta Barbarouses sent a powerful drive over the bar just before the hour mark, and nine minutes later the New Zealand international was thwarted in a one-on-one by keeper Jack Greenwood.

Victory had a good chance when substitute Elvis Kamsoba headed a Toivonen cross over in the 71st minute, with the final opportunity falling to Wanderers' Mitchell Duke who put a diving header wide.

Western Sydney slumped to their 13th loss in 22 games at ANZ Stadium over the past two seasons, during which they won just five times.

Toivonen said after the match: "It was a nice goal, good cross from Tommy and we're flying home with the three points.

"I think the whole season has been a little bit up and down, a lot of injuries going through the squad, but now the fun part starts so we're looking forward to it."

The Victory are 11/2 to win the Grand Final, with Sydney FC 2/1 and Perth Glory 11/10.

View all Soccer betting

Win could cost City derby final

Melbourne City face missing out on a blockbuster elimination final against Melbourne Victory following their 5-0 thrashing of Central Coast.

City have gone public this week about how much they would relish taking on their rivals in the first week of the finals.

But they may have cost themselves the chance to do so due to the size of their final-round win over the Mariners.

They will only face Victory if they finish sixth, which is the position they occupy ahead of the final regular season game that sees the Phoenix travel to Perth Glory.

But with City now level on points and just one goal behind Wellington, Mark Rudan's team could slip below them on Sunday – if they do, City will travel to Adelaide United rather than have an AAMI Park clash with Victory.

Warren Joyce's side were far too good for the wooden spoon side in their final game, with the Mariners suffering a 20th defeat of the campaign.

Shayon Harrison was a star for the hosts, scoring twice, while the best goal of the night was the final effort from youngster Ramy Najjarine.

Captain Scott Jamieson returned to action in more than a month for City, who took 35 minutes to get off the mark.

On-loan striker Harrison dribbled into the Mariners penalty area where he went past Jacob Melling and Matt Millar before dropping a shoulder and beating Jem Karacan and sliding a left-foot shot in off the far post.

Three minutes before the break Jamieson's cross picked out Riley McGree for an emphatic volleyed finish from close range.

City took only three minutes of the second half to add to their tally as Dario Vidosic swept in Lachlan Wales' pass across the face of goal.

The fourth goal followed soon after, with Wales again the provider. This time he slid a pass through to Harrison who got round Samuel Graham before shooting home under Adam Pearce in the Mariners goal.

Najjarine notched his first A-League goal in stoppage time with a fierce drive from outside the area.

Idris Abdulahi, at 16, became City's youngest ever player when he came off the bench in the 81st minute.

Melbourne City are 20/1 to win the Grand Final.

Meanwhile, minor premiers Perth Glory are 4/7 to win their next game against Wellington Phoenix, who are 9/2 with the draw 10/3.

View all Soccer betting

No risk over Ikonomidis say Glory

Socceroos striker Chris Ikonomidis will return for Perth Glory when they round off the A-League regular season at home to Wellington on Sunday.

Ikonomidis, who has scored eight goals in his 16 appearances this season, is back for the first time since dislocating his right shoulder three weeks ago.

Coach Tony Popovic said of the 23-year-old: "Playing Chris is logical; the boy is fit, he has been training. There is no risk attached to the injury, if there was he wouldn't be playing and we'd save him for a couple of weeks time."

Perth have already secured the Premiers' Plate, along with a place in the Asian Champions League next season and a bye in the first round of the Finals Series before staging a home semi-final.

Popovic said: "The most important aspect for us is the performance and that will give us momentum. We've shown this year that whenever we've done that we've come out on top."

The Glory will be facing a Phoenix side who know that anything worse than a one-goal defeat will drop them to sixth place in the final table.

That would see Mark Rudan's side travel to defending premiers Melbourne Victory in their elimination final, rather than take on Adelaide United.

Perth have lost only two of their past 10 meetings with Wellington and posted a 3-0 win at HBF Park in their most recent meeting in February.

The Glory's only confirmed absentee for Sunday is Alex Grant who is continuing his recovery from a virus, while the likes of Jason Davidson, Andy Keogh and Dino Djulbic all return to the selection mix.

Perth Glory are 5/4 to win the Grand Final.

The Glory are 4/7 to win their next game against Wellington, who are 9/2 with the draw 10/3.

View all Soccer betting

Jets hand Brisbane heaviest home loss

Newcastle Jets ran riot against Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium, handing the home side a 6-1 hammering.

Roy O'Donovan and Joey Champness both scored twice in the penultimate round clash between two sides who have failed to make the A-League Finals Series.

It was Brisbane's record home defeat and confirmed that the Roar will finish next to bottom in the table.

The Jets, who made it five consecutive wins over Brisbane, took control with two goals in a four-minute period midway through the first half.

Winger Champness sliced open the right side of the Roar's defence before cutting inside firing a shot that was deflected into the corner of the net.

The youngster then went around the outside of Daniel Leck to tee up O'Donovan's instinctive finish.

Jamie Young made a good save from Angus Thurgate to keep Newcastle from adding to their tally before the interval.

Darren Davies' team pulled a goal back four minutes into the second half when 18-year-old Jack Duncan followed up to net after keeper Lewis Italiano had failed to hold a fierce Dylan Wenzel-Halls strike.

Six minutes later O'Donovan had his second of the night when he headed home Ivan Vujica's cross, and the visitors scored twice more in a three-minute spell.

Kaine Sheppard's left-footed strike deflected in off the head of Dimitri Petratos to make it 4-1 and Champness tapped in to complete his double.

Substitute Kwabena Appiah-Kubi rounded off the scoring in added time, tucking away a one-on-one.

It was a particularly disappointing night for the Roar given that they hoped to send captain Matt McKay off into retirement on a positive note.

McKay will make his final appearance in the final round clash at home to Adelaide United.

Meanwhile, minor premiers Perth Glory are 13/10 to win the Grand Final. Sydney FC are priced at 2/1 with Melbourne Victory 5/1.

View all Soccer betting