Wanderers notch 10 straight wins
Western Sydney Wanderers have their eyes set on the Premier's Plate after notching their tenth straight victory with a 3-1 defeat of Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park.
On a wet and wild Melbourne afternoon, the Wanderers and Heart went to the break locked at 1-1 before two second-half goals sent the Sydney side eight points clear at the top of the table.
The victory also means that should Central Coast Mariners lose to Brisbane on Sunday, the Wanderers will become the first club since the competition's inception to win the Premier's Plate in its maiden season.
The Heart meanwhile endured a miserable day, the club slumping to their third straight defeat, a finals spot slipping further away and captain Simon Colosimo sent to the stand for two bookable offences.
But away from home, and without star play-maker Shinji Ono, Wanderers again proved they are stand-out team of the A-League.
And it was not long before they had the lead, in-form striker Labinot Haliti curling a delightful shot home from just inside the box after nice build-up work from Mark Bridge and Aaron Mooy.
But their advantage lasted little more than 10 minutes as Golgol Mebrahtu smashed a stunning 25-metre missile into the Wanderers net.
The second half was 15 minutes old when the Wanderers had the lead for the second time of the game, Haliti again on the score sheet after taking advantage of some poor defending.
And Heart's ability to make a second comeback was dealt a severe blow when Colosimo was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
A goal and a man down, and with their finals hopes on the line, the Heart fought to regain control of the match but the Wanderers finally felled their wounded opponent in the final minutes of the game, La Rocca's clinical finish re-writing the history books and putting the pressure on the Mariners to keep the race for the Premier's Plate alive for another week.
Elsewhere, a late equaliser from Yairo Yao helped Sydney FC salvage a 1-1 draw with arch-rivals Melbourne Victory in a memorable clash in front of 22,233 fans at Allianz Stadium.
The Sky Blues were forced to come from behind in the third minute after Mark Milligan completed a sweeping movement from the visitors to score the opening goal against his former club.
Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe kept his side in the game, saving a penalty attempt from Alessandro Del Piero on the hour, before Yao finally found the target for the hosts in the 85th minute.
Del Piero blew a gilt-edged chance a minute later as the two sides were forced to share the points.
Information from the Press Association was used in this report