Leckie ‘touch and go’

Winger Mathew Leckie may not be ready for Australia's round of 16 clash with Uzbekistan at the Asian Cup.

Assistant coach Rene Meulensteen said the 27-year-old, who has yet to feature in the Socceroos' defence of the trophy, hadn't yet proved his fitness.

Leckie was retained in the squad despite tearing his hamstring while playing for German club Hertha Berlin before the tournament.

Coach Graham Arnold believed he would return to fitness at some point after the group stages, but Meulensteen believes the Uzbekistan game could come too soon for him.

"He's touch and go, I'm not sure whether he's fine for this game because we want to eliminate every risk," he said.

"He feels he's confident stepping over that line and going … we want them to stay there for all the rest of the games, not just one. The worst thing you can do is think 'yep, great, off he goes' and boom, all the work is for nothing."

The Socceroos qualified for the knockout phase after beating Syria 3-2 in their final Group B game.

Meulensteen says the team have come back strongly from their surprise opening loss to Jordan and feels the players have grasped Arnold's attacking football philosophy.

"If you look to since Arnie and the rest of the staff have taken over, the amount of chances we've created, the goals we've scored, we are on the right track," he added.

Having played three times in 11 days, Australia's players were given a day's break before turning their attention to the game against Uzbekistan in Al Ain.

Uzbekistan qualified as runners-up in Group F, beating Oman and Turkmenistan before going down 2-1 to Japan in their final game.

Australia are 4/6 to win their next match against Uzbekistan, who are 4/1 with the draw 14/5. The Socceroos are 12/5 to win by a one-goal margin.

End of the line for Phoenix duo

Wellington Phoenix have released former Australia international midfielder Mitch Nichols and terminated the contract of Reuben Way by mutual consent.

The Phoenix, who have gone eight games unbeaten under coach Mark Rudan, have axed 29-year-old Nichols after his poor outing in the 3-2 win over Central Coast.

Making just his third start for the club since signing a two-year deal in the off-season, Nicholls gave away possession in the lead-up to Andrew Hoole's goal for the Mariners.

He was hauled off at half-time by Rudan and his Wellington career is over after 13 appearances totalling just 232 minutes.

Nichols, who played five times for the Socceroos, had fallen down the pecking order at the club behind rising star Sarpreet Singh and Max Burgess.

Wellington had been his fifth A-League club, with the midfielder having been a part of two consecutive championship-winning seasons with Brisbane Roar.

The contract termination for Way is effective from the end of this month, giving the Phoenix time to sign a replacement so they can meet the A-League minimum squad size of 20.

Way, who is currently undergoing rehab for an injury, had only seen 11 minutes of A-League action. The 28-year-old had been signed in pre-season by Rudan from Heidelberg United in the second-tier Victorian National Premier League.

A statement released by the club said: "Wellington Phoenix would like to thank Mitch and Reuben for their contributions and wish them all the best for their future endeavours."

The Phoenix have made one addition to their squad during the transfer window, bringing in Irish striker Cillian Sheridan on a one-year deal.

Wellington are 12/1 to win the Grand Final and 10/3 to win their next game against Melbourne Victory, who are 3/4 with the draw 11/4.

Rogic rocket earns win

A quality stoppage-time strike by Tom Rogic took Australia through to the knockout stages of the Asian Cup as they beat Syria 3-2.

The Socceroos were twice pegged back in Al Ain after Awer Mabil and Chris Ikonomidis scored.

A draw would have been enough to see Graham Arnold's side through but they secured their second straight victory when Rogic fired in from outside the area in the 93rd minute.

The holders will now face Uzbekistan or Japan in the round of 16 on Monday.

Australia, who had needed extra time to see off Syria in their two-legged clash in qualification for World Cup 2018, were given an early scare when Omar Khrbin dragged a low effort past the far post in the 13th minute.

Jamie Maclaren headed wide for Australia from Rhyan Grant's cross and was denied by keeper Ibrahim Alma's double save before the Socceroos went ahead on 41 minutes. Mabil struck a powerful curling effort with his left foot that gave Alma no chance, notching his fourth international goal.

The lead only lasted two minutes though with Khrbin poking home at the second attempt after Mat Ryan had parried his initial close-range header.

Ikonomidis squeezed the ball over the line nine minutes into the second half to convert Rogic's pass and make it 2-1.

Arnold's side were denied a two-goal cushion when Apostolos Giannou, having replaced Maclaren, took Mabil's pass and fired a fine low shot into the base of the post.

And 10 minutes from time Syria were level when they were awarded a penalty which Omar Al Soma converted.

Rogic's tremendous strike earned the three points for the Socceroos, taking them through in second spot.

Australia are 9/1 to win the Asian Cup. Meanwhile, Japan are 8/13 to win Group F and Uzbekistan 13/10.

Mentality key to victory

Skipper Mark Milligan praised Australia's mental approach to the crunch game against Palestine at the Asian Cup.

The 3-0 victory left the Socceroos well-placed to advance to the knockout stages of a competition they won on home soil four years ago.

It came in the wake of a stunning 1-0 defeat to 109th-ranked Jordan in their opening match in Group B in Al Ain.

Milligan felt Graham Arnold's side had taken a proactive and composed approach to the match against Palestine. Jamie Maclaren and Awer Mabil struck inside the opening 20 minutes and substitute Apostolos Giannou headed home the third goal.

Milligan, who made a game-high 97 passes, said: "We worked on different ways to break them down but I think the most important thing was our mentality. We were a little bit more patient and we kept moving the ball quickly.

"We wanted to make sure we picked our moments to go forward, we wanted to make sure we hit our rotations and timings. We know what it's like when you don't have the ball – it can be very tough."

Australia can ensure they progress by earning a draw with Syria in their final group match on Tuesday.

They met the AFC's sixth-ranked side in the fourth round of qualifying for the last World Cup in October 2017.

The Socceroos, then under Ange Postecoglou, drew 1-1 away in the first leg and the second leg score in Sydney was the same after 90 minutes before Australia won via Tim Cahill's extra-time goal.

Milligan said of Syria: "They've got some quality in their team and we just need to make sure we control things from early on."

Australia are 1/2 to beat Syria, who are 7/1 with the draw 14/5. The Socceroos are 5/1 to win 1-0.

Kurz: United on ‘good track’

Coach Marco Kurz is satisfied with the way his Adelaide United side are performing this season despite their 2-1 defeat to Sydney FC.

The Reds, who had been unbeaten in their previous four matches, remain seven points clear of seventh-placed Newcastle Jets after 13 rounds.

Kurz wasn't pleased with the way his team started the match at Jubilee Oval, saying they had failed to match the intensity they'd shown in their previous game against Melbourne Victory.

Adelaide had scored twice in the first 21 minutes against the defending champions, but this time they fell behind in the 11th minute to a Siem de Jong free-kick.

Kurz criticised the decision to award the free-kick to the Sky Blues on the edge of the penalty area, but wasn't seeking to use it as an excuse for their poor start.

"Before the game we said let's start with the same confidence and with the same intensity as we did against Victory – I think we didn't," said the coach. "We didn't start well early in the game, the first goal after a free-kick we can clear the ball very easily."

But Kurz views the season overall as being relatively successful, particularly in the light of having won the FFA Cup already.

"I think today we can be better and then have the chance to pick up the points but, with 19 points, we're on a good way," he added. "Also don't forget that we won the final and that means that we've a couple of more games in the legs, but we're on a good track."

Adelaide United are 14/1 to win the Grand Final and 13/8 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 13/8 with the draw 23/10.

Redmayne heroics for Sky Blues

Keeper Andrew Redmayne was able to mark his 30th birthday with a victory after his brilliant injury-time save helped Sydney FC beat Adelaide United 2-1.

The Sky Blues held on for the win at Jubilee Oval thanks to Redmayne's diving stop from Ryan Kitto.

Steve Corica's team maintained their six-point gap behind leaders Perth Glory, having taken an early lead through Siem de Jong.

The home side were given a free-kick just outside the box when Nikola Mileusnic, who replays showed had made contact with the ball first, was penalised for fouling de Jong.

The Dutchman stepped up and fired a venomous shot beyond flat-footed keeper Paul Izzo into the top left corner of the net.

Sydney FC doubled their lead three minutes into the second half when Jacob Tratt's run went unchecked and he was able to head home a Brandon O'Neill corner.

But Adelaide quickly pulled a goal back, through Craig Goodwin from the penalty spot, after George Blackwood went down in the box following minimal contact from Aaron Calver.

The Reds couldn't find an equaliser despite having 56 per cent of the ball and, until Redmayne's 93rd-minute stop, it was the home side that had gone closer to scoring the next goal.

De Jong thought he had his second when he netted just inside the left post in the 64th minute but play was called back by the VAR when Adam le Fondre was ruled to be offside in the lead-up.

Substitute Alex Brosque missed the target five minutes from time when Izzo came charging at him.

Adelaide's loss was their first in five weeks as they sit safely in sixth.

Sydney FC are 3/1 to win the Grand Final and 5/6 to win their next game against Newcastle Jets, who are 16/5 with the draw 13/5.

Perth pull off dramatic comeback

Perth Glory twice trailed Western Sydney Wanderers by two goals before coming back to win a thrilling contest 4-3 at HBF Park.

The A-League leaders rallied to preserve their six-point lead over rivals Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC, while handing Wanderers a fourth straight defeat.

The visitors looked to be on course for victory when they led 3-1 with 13 minutes left but coach Tony Popovic confounded his former club, who he had guided to Asian Champions League glory, when Perth produced a stunning late comeback.

Perth netted all their four goals in the final 20 minutes, with Juande completing the revival when he netted the winner via an 86th-minute penalty.

Wanderers took the lead late in the first half through Kwame Yeboah, who was making his first start in the competition in over five years. It was a finish he knew little about, but ensured the visitors had an advantage at the break.

They doubled their lead when Roly Bonevacia struck home a well-placed strike with 23 minutes to go.

Perth, though, quickly pulled a goal back when skipper Diego Castro headed home. Wanderers boosted their chances of taking maximum points when Manyiel Riel Majok scored, but again the two-goal lead proved short-lived.

Defender Ivan Franjic scored his first Glory goal in the 79th minute after Alex Grant's header had cannoned off the crossbar.

Popovic's side equalised eight minutes from time when Andy Keogh scored from close range following a neat cross from Franjic and the remarkable comeback was rounded off by Juande's penalty, which was given after Wanderers defender Brendan Hamill had held Keogh in the box.

Perth Glory are 5/2 to win the Grand Final and 2/1 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 11/8 with the draw 21/10.

Win over Victory heartens Reds

Adelaide United have taken a lot of encouragement from their win over defending champions Melbourne Victory, says Craig Goodwin.

The Reds extended their unbeaten run to four games and now have a seven-point cushion inside the Finals Series places.

Marco Kurz's side scored their goals in a three-minute spell in the first half, Goodwin getting them off the mark and Ken Ilso adding a second as they ended Victory's nine-match undefeated streak.

Goodwin, who now has 10 goals in all competitions this season, was happy with the first-half display in particular against Victory and hopes that form carries over into their clash with last season's minor premiers Sydney FC.

"It was a good performance, very intense with the pressing obviously we were clinical," he said. "I think that's probably the thing we've lacked the most, that clinical finishing.

"The game before against Wellington we had 32 shots and no goals, so it's probably the one thing that's restricted us from picking up more points, but hopefully we can improve on that in the coming games as well."

The 27-year-old scored his goal against Victory after excellent lead-up play from Isaias and Nikola Mileusnic.

He paid tribute to Isaias, saying: "He's our captain and he's such an important player for us. He leads with his performances on the field and last night he was first-class from start to finish."

Kurz will have Vince Lia available again after suspension when the Reds take on Sydney FC on Sunday.

Three of their five wins this season have come on the road and they now face three consecutive away games before finishing January by hosting bottom side Central Coast.

Adelaide are 14/5 to win their next game against Sydney FC, who are 19/20 with the draw 13/5.

Corica not fazed by gap

Coach Steve Corica has no doubts Sydney FC can still challenge for the Premiers' Plate this season despite blowing their big chance to reel in leaders Perth Glory.

The Sky Blues were beaten 3-1 in Perth on Wednesday, conceding all three goals in the first half. It snapped their four-game winning run, while the Glory extended their lead at the top to six points.

Perth have only suffered one defeat all season, while the Sky Blues have lost three. They are in third spot, level with defending champions Melbourne Victory but trailing on goal difference.

Corica was unhappy with his team's first-half display against Tony Popovic's side but feels "100 per cent" there is more than enough time for them to bridge the six-point gap.

"There's no way we're giving up," he said. "It's only six points, it doesn't mean they've got it shot to bits.

"It's a long way to go; I've seen teams (that have) been turned around from six points in front. We're looking forward to it, it's going to be a good end to the season."

Adam le Fondre netted his 11th goal of the season for Sydney FC against the Glory but it wasn't enough to get the visitors back into the match.

The Sky Blues, who face Adelaide and Newcastle at home in their next two games, are ready to make changes in the coming weeks and that could mean more game-time for Danny De Silva.

The former Perth player has been restricted to eight substitute appearances since recovering from a hamstring injury.

Speaking of the 21-year-old, who gave the team some spark when he came on in the 66th minute against Glory, Corica said: "I'm pretty sure he's going to be starting very soon. Six games in January is a tough ask for a lot of players with the quick turnarounds."

Sydney FC are 19/20 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 14/5 with the draw 13/5.

Leckie to remain with Socceroos

Australia have confirmed winger Mat Leckie will stay in their squad for the Asian Cup, despite still being injured.

The 27-year-old suffered a hamstring injury when playing for his club Hertha Berlin last month before joining the Socceroos camp in the United Arab Emirates.

But coach Graham Arnold has ruled the player's recovery is progressing well enough that he'll remain with the team despite being unlikely to feature until the knockout stages.

Leckie said: "We are working really hard with the training sessions, taking it step by step, not rushing things, and so far the progress has been great."

It's the first time the player has suffered such an injury, and he added: "First and foremost I had to get the scan done to see if there was a chance. Once there I was straight over here and sat down with the physios, with 'Colesy' [Phil Coles], and set up a plan going forward.

"We are working really hard with the training sessions, taking it step by step, not rushing things, and so far the progress has been great. It started off just jogging and seeing how it goes and there's improvements and the pain is going away."

Leckie had established himself as a starter in the midfield for Hertha last season, but he played less than 90 minutes over the first 11 games of this term.

The Australian came back into favour with coach Pal Dardai in recent weeks and had started each of the team's last four games before being injured.

The Socceroos start their Asian Cup defence against Jordan on Sunday, with Palestine and Syria their other Group B opponents.

Australia are 4/11 to beat Jordan, who are 8/1 with the draw 7/2. The Socceroos are 9/2 to win 1-0.