Phoenix ease past Wanderers

Wellington Phoenix scored three times in 21 first-half minutes to earn a 3-1 home win over Western Sydney Wanderers.

The New Zealand side, fresh from an 8-2 thumping of Central Coast, put Wanderers to the sword before the break at Westpac Stadium. Roy Krishna, Mandi and David Williams found the net to give the home side a three-goal cushion at the break.

Markus Babbel's side fought back in the second half and earned a penalty but Alexander Baumjohann fired wide from the spot.

They got a late consolation through Mitch Duke's header, but their chances of making the Finals Series look to be gone now – they are 11 points off the top six, with five games left.

The Phoenix broke the deadlock in the 13th minute when leading scorer Krishna finished well from an angle, firing past Vedran Janjetovic and into the top corner.

They doubled their lead 11 minutes later as Mandi scored a sublime free-kick past the motionless Janjetovic.

Western Sydney almost hit back when Oriol Riera's shot was well saved by keeper Filip Kurto and minutes later the home side made it 3-0. Williams produced a superb curling shot off the inside of the post for his eighth goal of the campaign.

Max Burgess created a chance for Liberato Cacace after the break but the youngster couldn't keep his volley down.

Wanderers were handed an opportunity 19 minutes from time when Burgess was adjudged to have fouled Bruce Kamau inside the box after the original decision had been a free-kick.

Baumjohann dragged his right-footed effort wide of the target and Duke's effort four minutes from time was too little, too late for the visitors.

The Phoenix had Krishna sent off in injury time for a second yellow card after a raised arm.

Wellington are 25/1 to win the Grand Final this season and 23/20 to win their next game against Newcastle Jets, who are 9/4 to come out on top with the draw 12/5.

Spurs loanee bags brace

Two goals from loan signing Shayon Harrison got Melbourne City back to winning ways as they beat Sydney FC 2-0.

The English forward, who arrived from Tottenham in January, netted twice after the break at Leichhardt Oval as City secured their first win over the Sky Blues in Sydney for four years.

The victory lifted Warren Joyce's side to fifth on the ladder and ended a six-match winless run.

City's win dented the minor premiership hopes of Steve Corica's team, who are now nine points behind leaders Perth Glory with five games to go.

The match was played on a heavy pitch which had survived an inspection following a huge downpour. The conditions had more of an effect on the Sky Blues, given that they had made a midweek trip to Japan for an Asian Champions League game.

They held out until the interval, with keeper Andrew Redmayne tipping Luke Brattan's low strike around the post from City's best chance.

The visitors took the lead on 63 minutes when an interception from Kearyn Baccus launched a counter-attack. The midfielder broke forward before slipping the ball to Harrison on his right, and the 21-year-old tucked his shot under the diving Redmayne.

Harrison's second came 15 minutes later when he was picked out at the far post by Harrison Delbridge's cross. His shot took a deflection off Paulo Retre to leave Redmayne rooted to the spot.

City closed to within one point of fourth-placed Wellington Phoenix with what was their first away victory since mid-December. They have a seven-point cushion inside the Finals Series places, with just five rounds left.

Melbourne City are 14/1 to win the Grand Final this season and 13/10 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 2/1 to emerge victorious, with the draw 12/5.

Eight-goal Phoenix hammer Mariners

Wellington Phoenix grabbed their biggest A-League win as they hammered bottom side Central Coast Mariners 8-2 in Gosford.

The New Zealanders eased their fears of missing out on the Finals Series as they moved five points clear of seventh-placed Newcastle.

Roy Krishna and Sarpreet Singh each scored twice at Central Coast Stadium, with Mark Rudan's side netting four times in each half.

It was a result that cost Mariners coach Mike Mulvey his job, as the club announced within hours that he had been sacked after a return of just seven points from 21 games.

Krishna's brace took his season's tally to 14, level at the top of the Golden Boot race with Sydney FC's Adam le Fondre.

The goal glut started in the eighth minute when Krishna's cross was directed into the goal by Mariners defender Sam Graham at the near post.

Fijian striker Krishna then doubled the lead when he lobbed over the head of keeper Ben Kennedy after collecting a long ball from Antony Golec.

David Williams was next on the scoresheet, firing home from a three-on-one situation that began when Krishna won the ball off Graham.

Krishna latched onto a defence-splitting pass from Max Burgess just before the break to blast his shot past Kennedy to make it 4-0.

Teenage defender Liberato Cacace grabbed his first A-League goal soon after half-time, sparking a three-goal burst in the space of nine minutes.

Singh made it 6-0 and Louis Fenton netted two minutes later, before the Mariners finally gave their fans some respite.

Jack Clisby and Stephen Mallon pegged back two goals, scoring seven minutes apart midway through the half.

But Wellington weren't done, and Singh scored their record-breaking eighth goal when replacement Cillian Sheridan drew Kennedy and passed to his unmarked team-mate who cooly slotted home from close-range.

Wellington Phoenix are 25/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Phoenix are 1/1 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 5/2 with the draw 13/5.

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‘Struggling’ Victory glad of break

Defender James Donachie admits Melbourne Victory need to recharge their batteries after a first-up defeat to Daegu FC in the Asian Champions League.

The defending A-League champions went down 3-1 at home, despite taking the lead through Swedish striker Ola Toivonen.

They will have the benefit of a rest before they play their next game in Group H, when they travel to Japan to face Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Victory have no A-League game this weekend, a break that's badly needed given that they have now gone five games without a win.

Having to play a Grand Final re-match at home to Newcastle Jets last weekend, which they lost 2-0, made it a tough ask for the players to get through their first ACL clash.

"Rest is the most important thing. In the second half against Daegu, I think our boys showed we were struggling a bit," said Donachie.

"Not to take anything away from Daegu as they were better than us. We just need to rest well, especially in Japan which'll be a tough game again."

Kevin Muscat's team started their ACL campaign at a tough time, given that they had picked up just two points from their last four league matches.

The club have struggled in the competition and have only made it past the group stage once in their previous six appearances in the ACL.

Victory and Sanfrecce are the two teams without a point from their opening games, with the Japanese side having gone down to two first-half goals in their 2-0 defeat away to Guangzhou Evergrande.

Melbourne Victory are 4/9 to win their next game against Brisbane Roar, who are 11/2 with the draw 7/2.

Appiah reunited with Merrick

Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick has signed winger Kwabena Appiah until the end of the season.

Appiah was a free agent after leaving K-League club Incheon United in January and has been training with the Jets since returning to Australia.

Merrick has brought him in to provide depth to the squad, primarily covering the long-term absence of Jason Hoffman.

He worked with Appiah when he was in charge at Wellington Phoenix. The attacker made 16 appearances under Merrick while he was with the New Zealand side and has also played in the A-League for Central Coast Mariners and Western Sydney.

He left Incheon after making 27 appearances across the league and cup competitions.

Merrick said: "He's got great speed and the ability to get in behind defences, which is something I look for in players who operate in the final third. His signing will provide us with some depth given the injury to Jason."

Appiah is delighted to be joining a team that is in contention to make the Finals Series this season – the Jets are two points behind sixth-placed Wellington.

He said: "Ernie has the boys playing a nice style of football, based around moving the ball quickly and getting forward, and I think it's a style I'm suited to."

The 26-year-old will be available for selection for the F2 derby with the Mariners on 16nd March.

Meanwhile, Perth Glory have re-signed forward Joel Chianese for next season.

The 29-year-old has featured in 20 of the Glory's league games this term, scoring four times and contributing three assists.

Chianese, who originally joined Glory in 2016, said: "I have learned so much working under [Head Coach] Tony Popovic and the coaching staff this year and with the great players we've got together."

Perth Glory are 7/5 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 7/4 with the draw 5/2.

McGing to move to Poland

Central Coast Mariners have released midfielder Jake McGing so he can join Polish side Wisła Płock.

The 24-year-old has played 82 A-League games for the Gosford-based club, who are bottom of the A-League. He came through the Mariners Foxtel Y-League set-up and signed his first professional contract in February 2015.

McGing, who has made seven starting appearances this season, said he was excited to be heading overseas.

"As a young footballer growing up, everyone wants to test themselves in Europe and when this opportunity arose I was very happy to take it," he said.

"The Mariners are my first professional team and I've been here for four years now. It's a place I hold close to my heart and I want to thank everyone at the Mariners for how they've welcomed me since I arrived.

"I want to wish the boys the best of luck for the rest of the season. They are good enough to finish the season strong and hopefully a few results can go our way."

McGing started out as a midfielder with the Mariners before being moved into central defence under Tony Walmsley. He returned to the midfield in 2016/17 but Paul Okon moved him again, to right-back, last season.

Meanwhile, Wellington Phoenix, who face the Mariners in their next match, have re-signed midfielder Alex Rufer.

The 22-year-old, who has played 19 times this season and formed a strong partnership alongside Spanish import Mandi in the middle of the park, has inked a deal for 2019/20.

He had attracted interest from clubs in Switzerland, where he spent pre-season on trial, before returning to fight for his future at the Phoenix.

Rufer said: "I have ambitions to play in Europe and abroad, and I've had interest from clubs in Europe, but I just felt like it was best suited for me to play in the A-League and get another 20-27 games under my belt. That way I'll be even more of a player and hopefully I'll have improved a lot more and that will best prepare me for going overseas."

Wellington 1/1 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 5/2 with the draw 13/5.

Duo a doubt for Victory

Defending champions Melbourne Victory have doubts over star striker Ola Toivonen and winger Elvis Kamsoba ahead of their clash with Newcastle Jets in Geelong.

Toivonen has been ill over the past two days and coach Kevin Muscat will need to wait before assessing whether he can play in the Grand Final re-match at GMBH Stadium.

Kamsoba injured himself when shooting at training and will have scans on his knee. Victory are definitely without Carl Valeri, who is still battling to recover from the hamstring injury he sustained last month against Central Coast.

German centre-back Georg Niedermeier, who was sent off against Melbourne City last weekend, is suspended but Muscat is happy that both Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda, who is set to make his third consecutive appearance, and new recruit James Donachie are getting fitter.

Victory will have attacking midfielder and former Golden Boot winner James Troisi playing his 100th game for the club.

Speaking of the 30-year-old, Muscat said: "The challenge for James and anybody else is to find that level of consistency. It's for him to perform at a level that's good for the team. These occasions (the game against Newcastle) are not parties … you have to go out and perform.''

Troisi, who played in the 1-0 win over the Jets in last season's decider, has 27 goals so far for Victory. He has created 30 chances for his team-mates since round one – more than any other A-League player.

Victory are entering the most difficult part of their season, as they start their Asian Champions League campaign against Daegu FC of South Korea next week.

Muscat added: "I'm in the mind-set of being in the ACL, having cup runs and being in a position where you're competing for honours is not a burden. My mind-set is [that position is] where everybody wants to be."

Melbourne Victory are 21/20 win their next game against Newcastle Jets, who are 13/5 with the draw 12/5.

Fornaroli leaves Melbourne City

Melbourne City have finally parted company with striker Bruno Fornaroli after keeping him on the sidelines since round five.

The Uruguayan is reported to have secured a lucrative deal to play for Perth Glory next season.

City coach Warren Joyce hasn't named the marquee forward in his squad since the opening month of the campaign. After he and the club agreed terms for his departure, the 32-year-old posted on social media: "I say goodbye knowing that in my heart that I've given everything I had to give."

Fornaroli was a big success in his first two seasons with the club, after joining in August 2015.

Netting on his debut against Wellington Phoenix, he went on to become the first A-League player to score 20 goals in a season in 2015/16.

Fornaroli won the league's Golden Boot award with 23 goals during the regular season and was handed a new three-year deal by City ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.

He became club skipper that season and netted 17 goals in 27 games.

The striker broke his ankle in an FFA Cup game against Hakoah Sydney City East before the start of last season but scored in five of City's last six games after recovering.

Fornaroli played in all three of City's FFA Cup ties last year and scored one goal in his four league starts this season.

City struggled for goals without him until they brought in Australia international Jamie Maclaren during the transfer window.

The 32-year-old scored 57 goals in 83 games in all competitions for City. He asked for a release from City during the January transfer window but was turned down.

Melbourne City are 14/1 to win the Grand Final and 2/1 to win their next game against Perth Glory, who are 11/8 with the draw 23/10.

Popovic: Glory must work hard

Coach Tony Popovic wants his Perth Glory side to put in a big shift when they take on his former club Western Sydney Wanderers.

It's Popovic's first return to his old team and there's a big gulf between the clubs with Perth riding high and Wanderers in eighth place.

The Glory have a nine-point lead at the top of the table over defending champions Melbourne Victory and are bidding for a fifth consecutive victory.

Popovic, though, says the contrasting league positions of the teams can't be something that gives his team grounds for complacency.

"We won't be forgetting the fact that, without hard work, things can change very quickly and we won't take anything for granted," he said. "We'll continue to work hard, prepare as we do and respect our opponents.

"They [Wanderers] are a very dangerous opponent with some very good players. We'll go there confident but knowing that we'll have to play well."

Popovic was Western Sydney's inaugural coach and led them to the minor premiership in their first season in the A-League. He then made history when Wanderers became the first Australian team to win the Asian Champions League title – they beat Al Hilal in the 2014 final.

Popovic quit just before the start of last season to take up a job in Turkey and admits that he doesn't know how he will be received by the Wanderers fans when he goes back to Spotless Stadium.

"Whatever it is, I'm sure deep down they'll respect the time we had together," he added. "How they show that will be up to them; I've got fantastic memories from my time there."

Glory defenders Alex Grant (abdomen) and Tomislav Mrcela (thigh) are still sidelined for the game.

Perth Glory are 19/20 to beat Western Sydney, who are 11/4 to emerge victorious, with the draw 11/4.

Honda set for rare start

Melbourne Victory are expected to have Japanese star Keisuke Honda back in their starting side for Saturday's derby against City.

The 32-year-old hasn't started a match in 11 rounds due to a hamstring injury. But he came through his substitute's appearance last weekend against Wellington Phoenix, when he netted a second-half goal that secured a 1-1 draw at Eden Park.

Keeper Lawrence Thomas expects to see Honda in from the start at Marvel Stadium, as Victory chase a win to stay in touch with leaders Perth Glory.

"He should be back. It's a massive boost for us having Mr Honda there," said Thomas.

The Victory shot-stopper sees City as a 'dangerous' side – they went down 2-1 to Kevin Muscat's team in the opening round and the teams drew 1-1 in their most recent meeting in December.

City have fallen away in the chase for the Premiers' Plate, having picked up just one point from their last four games.

"They're sitting where we were at a similar point last year and we ended up coming good at the end," added Thomas. "For us we need to win to keep a chance of catching Perth … we need to turn up and I believe we will."

Victory expect to have Ola Toivonen on the bench after three weeks out due to a training knock.

City, having won only one of their past seven games, are relishing the chance to return to form in the derby.

Keeper Eugene Galekovic said: "Everyone likes playing in the big games – the intensity lifts, the crowds are big and get into it. But we need to sustain that mindset all the time."

Melbourne City are 13/5 to beat Melbourne Victory, who are 21/20 to come out on top, with the draw 5/2.