Ingham earns point for Victory

Melbourne Victory fielded an inexperienced side for their Asian Champions League home clash with Guangzhou Evergrande but were able to pick up their first point of the competition with a 1-1 draw.

Kevin Muscat's side are out of contention to qualify for the knockout phase, having lost their first three games including a 4-0 thrashing in Guangzhou earlier this month.

Muscat made eight changes from the team that lost their A-League game with Adelaide United four days earlier, saving both Keisuke Honda and Ola Toivonen for A-League finals duty.

Terry Antonis, who had missed the China trip with a knee injury, set up the first chance of the match in the opening two minutes at AAMI Park but saw Kenny Athiu head wide.

Antonis then tested keeper Liu Dianzuo with a well-struck shot after linking up with Elvis Kamsoba and Josh Hope.

Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas, restored to the starting side, did well to deny former Tottenham and Barcelona midfielder Paulinho but Guangzhou took the lead midway through the first half.

Paulinho picked up the ball deep in his own half and drove forward before cutting the ball back for Huang Bowen to slot past Thomas.

The home side were level within two minutes, thanks to Jai Ingham. The forward, who has only started one of Victory's 26 A-League games this season, grabbed his chance to fire home when Antoni's pass to Athiu was deflected into his path by defender Gao Zhunyi.

Thomas gathered at the second attempt as he dealt with a cross from He Chao before the interval and, in the second half, parried a drive from Yang Liyu before Zhang Linpeng fired into the side-netting.

Paulinho headed wide five minutes from time, with Guangzhou's final chance seeing Talisca scrape the post with a free-kick.

Melbourne Victory are 5/1 to win the A-League Grand Final and 7/4 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 11/8 with the draw 13/5.

Castro pens new Glory deal

Captain Diego Castro has signed a new two-year deal with newly-crowned minor premiers Perth Glory.

The Spaniard, whose current two-season contract was due to expire next month, has opted to extend his spell in the West until the end of 2020/21.

His decision to stay has been greeted by Perth's football director Jacob Burns, who said the former Johnny Warren Medal winner was one of the greatest players ever to represent the Glory.

"His legacy is already assured but we all hope that he can further embellish that legacy by helping the club complete the championship-premiership double this season and secure more silverware in the seasons to come," said Burns.

"This signing is another clear indication of the club's ambition to achieve sustained success and a testament to the owner's continued support in pursuit of that goal."

Castro has scored 34 goals in his 84 appearances for the club since arriving in 2015.

"I have had a fantastic emotional relationship with the members and fans since the first day I arrived here and I want to keep that love story with the fans going," said the 36-year-old former Sporting Gijon and Getafe player.

"Now I want to help the club add another trophy to the Premiers' Plate. With Tony Popovic here, the future of the club is in the best hands possible and I'm so grateful for all the help that he has provided me with this year."

Perth have clinched their first A-League Premiers' Plate this season under Popovic after missing out on the Finals Series last term when Kenny Lowe was coach.

Perth are 13/10 to win the Grand Final and 4/7 to win their next game against Wellington Phoenix, who are 9/2 with the draw 16/5.

Sky Blues want to keep Caceres

Sydney FC are reported to be trying to sign on-loan midfielder Anthony Caceres from Manchester City.

Caceres has been a first team regular under coach Steve Corica since he joined in January, making 15 appearances in all competitions.

The 26-year-old has never played for City since he signed for them in January 2016, but has a year left on his contract with the Premier League side. He moved to England after playing 62 A-League games for Central Coast Mariners.

City loaned him out to Melbourne City for the 2016/17 season, where he scored three goals in 38 matches.

He then had a stint on loan with Al-Wasl in the United Arab Emirates, before having another spell with Melbourne City last year when he played five times.

Corica described him after Thursday's 1-0 win over minor premiers Perth Glory as the Sky Blues' hardest working player, and he is keen to keep him at the club.

Caceres said: "I am not certain about what's going to happen from now. I have really enjoyed myself from the moment I arrived here and I have been pushing to hopefully stick around.

"It's my home city, it's a club that has been successful and I see that continuing in the same fashion in the coming seasons. It's a place where I see myself excelling and developing as a footballer."

He added: "I feel like I am myself here, it's my home city also which helps having family around. I am playing football here and enjoying it which I think is the biggest difference for me."

Caceres is set to play for the Sky Blues in Tuesday's Asian Champions League clash with Chinese champions Shanghai SIPG.

Sydney FC must win in Shanghai if they are to keep their hopes of progression to the knockout stages alive.

Sydney FC are 2/1 to triumph in the A-League Grand Final, while the Sky Blues are 66/1 to win the Asian Champions League.

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Krishna set for golden boot

Roy Krishna's hat-trick at Westpac Stadium kept Wellington Phoenix in the hunt for a top-four finish and put him on the verge of winning the A-League golden boot award.

The Fijian striker clinched a 3-2 win over Melbourne City thanks to an injury-time backheel from close range.

Krishna had twice put the home side in front against Warren Joyce's side, only for Riley McGree to level both times.

His treble put him on 18 for the season – two goals clear of Sydney FC's Adam le Fondre going into the final round of the regular season.

The battle for fourth spot in the league, which would secure a home elimination final, is now between Wellington and Adelaide United.

Adelaide, who lead the New Zealand side by one point but have a worse goal difference, will travel to Brisbane Roar for their final fixture while Wellington must go to Western Australia to take on this season's minor premiers Perth Glory.

Phoenix keeper Filip Kurto made excellent saves from Jamie Maclaren and McGree before the home side broke the deadlock. Krishna latched on to Max Burgess' well-timed pass to lift the ball just over keeper Eugene Galekovic.

McGree levelled just before the interval when he found the bottom corner of the net beyond Kurto's dive.

When Krishna restored Wellington's lead six minutes after half-time, firing a powerful effort past Galekovic, it broke the Phoenix's record for most goals in a season set by Jeremy Brockie in 2012/13.

But City hit back when McGree drilled in after Kurto had made two excellent saves.

The visitors almost grabbed a third goal, but Shayon Harrison's free-kick rebounded off the crossbar.

And it looked as though the Phoenix's chances of finishing fourth were gone, until Krishna reacted quickly to stab the ball home from close range four minutes into added time.

The Phoenix are 16/1 to win the A-League Grand Final.

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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.

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Simon double earns Mariners third win

Central Coast are already certain of finishing bottom of the A-League, but they gave their fans something to cheer when they beat Western Sydney 3-1.

The Mariners won for just the third time this season in their final home game of the campaign.

Skipper Matt Simon scored twice, including one from the penalty spot, as the Gosford club ended Wanderers' five-game winning streak at Central Coast Stadium.

Western Sydney, coming off a 1-1 derby draw with Sydney, fell behind 11 minutes before the break when they conceded a free-kick just outside the box.

Simon took a long run up to the ball and smashed it through the wall beyond teenage keeper Jack Greenwood.

The Mariners doubled their lead seven minutes into the second half when Greenwood struck Jordan Murray in the face when trying to punch clear a high ball.

Murray did his best to keep out Simon's powerful penalty, but despite getting a hand to the shot he couldn't keep it out.

The keeper made a full stretch save to deny Aiden O'Neill four minutes later, but defender Kye Rowles scored his first A-League goal with a header off the ensuing corner kick from Jack Clisby.

Mark Bridge came off the bench for his 250th A-League appearance and within seconds got onto the scoresheet when he smashed home a penalty after Jacob Melling pushed Rashid Mahazi over inside the box.

Wanderers had an extra man for the final four minutes, after Rowles was shown a straight red card for a dangerous, lunging challenge on Alexander Baumjohann.

The visitors had two late chances to reduce the deficit but Mariners keeper Adam Pearce made a diving save to deny Bruce Kamau and Abraham Majok blasted over the crossbar five minutes into added time.

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

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Blackwood header sees off Victory

George Blackwood's header 10 minutes from time gave Adelaide United a potentially crucial 1-0 home win over Melbourne Victory.

The Reds made it three wins in their last four games to put themselves in pole position to secure fourth spot in the A-League and a home final.

Defending champions Victory will now have to settle for a third-place finish behind Perth Glory and Sydney FC.

It was a game lacking in fluency, with few clear-cut chances in the first half.

Blackwood headed wide twice, before Terry Antonis and Ola Toivonen went close in the final five minutes of the half.

Swedish striker Toivonen was off target twice just after the break, first with a header then with a shot.

Victory keeper Matt Acton, who retained his place in the side despite Lawrence Thomas returning to fitness, had little to do.

The visitors had the ball in the back of the net when central defender James Donachie headed home Keisuke Honda's corner with 12 minutes to go, but the effort was ruled out for an infringement.

Honda avoided being sent off for a second bookable offence when his studs made contact with Ryan Kitto's knee.

Adelaide won it when Blackwood squeezed past two defenders to power a header past Acton from Isaias' cross.

United coach Marco Kurz said: "It was an important result and a fantastic game from our side. Defensively very, very good; very strong and the boys believed until the end of the game.

"It was a very intensive game from both sides. Tactically both teams were very strong and very good against the ball and in the end we were the lucky winner."

Melbourne Victory are 5/1 to win the Grand Final while Kosta Barbarouses is 6/1 to be the A-League's top goalscorer.

Le Fondre strike beats Glory

Sydney FC beat minor premiers Perth Glory for the second time this season and closed in on second spot when they won 1-0 at Jubilee Oval.

The Sky Blues picked up a fifth victory in seven games to move five points clear of third-placed Melbourne Victory.

The performance was not the big statement Sydney FC fans had hoped for ahead of the Finals Series, and the only goal of the game won't make any highlight reels of 2018/19.

But Adam le Fondre's 16th goal of his first campaign for the Sky Blues was enough to down the visitors as they suffered just their third loss of the season.

The Glory made six changes to their squad and left five of their first team regulars at home.

Coach Tony Popovic handed his 17-year-old son Kristian his debut off the bench in the second half, and he came closest to a goal when his long-range shot threatened to drop into the net.

Perth weren't able to fashion a shot on goal, but neither did the hosts pose much of a threat up front.

The goal came eight minutes before the break, when a well-weighted Anthony Caceres cross found Paulo Retre at the far post and his header was deflected into lap of le Fondre standing on the goal line.

It was an unmissable chance, and gave him his first A-League goal in seven weeks.

The Sky Blues almost doubled their lead five minutes into the second half when le Fondre slipped a pass through Perth's defence to find Retre but the fullback could only find the side netting.

That miss was nearly punished moments later when Fabio Ferreira missed the target with a half-volley against his former team.

Meanwhile, Brisbane Roar are 7/2 to beat Newcastle on Saturday. The Jets are 7/10, while the draw is 16/5.

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McKay calling time on long career

Brisbane Roar captain Matt McKay has two final games in front of home fans before he heads into retirement.

The 36-year-old former Australia international is bringing down the curtain on his 18-year professional career.

The Roar are out of the running to make the A-League Finals Series, so McKay will bow out when the Roar face Adelaide United at Suncorp Stadium on 25th April.

Born in Brisbane, McKay holds the club's record for league appearances having played for them since the start of the A-League.

He led the club to their first championship and premiership in 2010-11 before moving to Scottish side Rangers.

He spent one season with the Glasgow club then played for South Korean side Busan IPark and Changchun Yatai in the Chinese Super League before returning to Brisbane for a second spell in 2013.

McKay played every game in Australia's Asian Cup campaign in 2011 when they lost to Japan in the final, and was also in the squad when they won the tournament on home soil in 2015.

He won 59 caps between 2006-16, scoring twice, for the Socceroos.

After returning to the Roar, McKay helped the club under Mike Mulvey win another A-League double in 2013-14.

"I'm grateful for everything football has given me," he said. "I've had an enjoyable career with plenty of highs and lows, but I've always had a smile on my face and that's what's made it for me.

"I've always tried my hardest and I think that's what has made my career last as long as it has – I've always given my al. I was there from day one at the Roar and played with some immense players with a great work ethic, which has been really special."

Brisbane Roar are 7/2 to win their next game against Newcastle Jets, who are 7/10 with the draw 16/5.

Thomas available for Reds clash

Goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas is available again for Melbourne Victory as they travel to Adelaide United looking for a win to keep alive their top-two chances.

Coach Kevin Muscat has a fully-fit squad at his disposal for the Coopers Stadium clash against a United side that are one place but nine points behind them in fourth.

Thomas, who has missed the last three matches with a knee injury, is the club's first-choice keeper but Matt Acton has performed well in his absence.

Muscat is not ready to divulge who will start the game against the Reds.

Acton has been an A-League understudy for five seasons, making just eight A-League starts since winning a place in Brisbane Roar's squad in 2013.

Muscat said of Adelaide: "They're desperate for a home final. Especially after last year, that first elimination final was away, was here [in Melbourne].

"Somehow they maybe leave a little bit in the tank for when they play us. I can't remember a dull game against them."

If Victory can't overhaul Sydney FC for second spot they will face eight games in 33 days, including at least four away days, before the Grand Final.

They have to play their remaining three Asian Champions League group games before the end of May, which will stretch their resources.

It will also serve as a distraction for their A-League Finals Series, given that they have no chance of qualifying for the ACL knockout stages following three defeats in their first three matches.

Adelaide, who are aiming to hold off Melbourne City and Wellington to secure fourth place, have named Jordan Elsey in an extended squad after returning from injury, while Pacifique Niyongabire has been promoted.

Melbourne Victory are 9/5 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 7/5 with the draw 13/5.