A-League: Sydney held by Perth, Jets beat Victory
A-League leaders Sydney were held to a goalless draw at Perth Glory on Sunday as Newcastle Jets beat second-placed Melbourne Victory 3-2.
After demolishing the Jets 4-0 on Boxing Day, Perth looked in a confident mood at ME Bank Stadium, but Mile Sterjovski's shot against the upright after seven minutes was the closest the home side came to a breakthrough.
Sydney appeared content to simply soak up the pressure and rely on counter-attacks until Perth took their foot off the gas in the second half, but substitute striker Chris Payne failed to convert several good chances for the Sky Blues.
But, with ten-man Newcastle inflicting a second consecutive defeat on Melbourne, Sydney extended their lead at the top of the table to four points with five games remaining, although the Victory still have a game in hand.
"To get a point is a good result in Perth, especially after Melbourne lost today also," Sydney coach Viteszlav Lavicka said. "Perth played well in the first half and put us under pressure and played better but we defended very well."
Fourth-placed Newcastle strengthened their play-off position, moving to within three points of third-placed Gold Coast United, who were held to a 1-1 draw by basement side Adelaide United yesterday.
"It was an outstanding performance from an outstanding team who has shown today if they really want something they can go out and get it," Jets coach Branko Culina said.
At EnergyAustralia Stadium, Newcastle took the lead through captain Matt Thompson after 26 minutes before defender Ben Kantarovski picked up his second yellow card 12 minutes before the break for pulling back Robbie Kruse inside the penalty area.
Victory skipper Kevin Muscat converted from the spot to level the scores, but Newcastle regained the lead on the stroke of half-time as Michael Bridges turned home Tarek Elrich's cross.
Labinot Haliti slotted home four minutes before the hour mark to extend the Jets' advantage and, after the home side dominated the closing stages despite their numerical disadvantage, Costa Rican midfielder Carlos Hernandez grabbed a last-minute second for Melbourne.
"Credit to Newcastle, after the second goal in particular we just weren't in the contest," Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick said. "They were first to the ball and took their chances and even though we had the ball in the box and had more scoring chances we didn't even look like finishing."