Ange Postecoglou’s title win with Japanese club Yokohama F. Marinos is vindication for anyone who has ever wanted to do things their own way and not simply follow the crowd.
In a nutshell, Round 1 was full of intriguing games for the neutral as none of the games were one-sided.
Two of the five games ended in a draw, with all of the other three games separated by a margin of one goal.
The intervention of VAR was imperative as it often decided the results of contests by overturning incorrect decisions, which is a big positive. Five of the 11 goals came in the first game between Adelaide United and Sydney FC.
The football was of a reasonable standard on the whole with all the teams rusty in patches, which is what you’d expect in Round 1. The football can get better, but there were many talking points.
Adelaide United vs Sydney FC
Sky Blues clinch three points in five-goal thriller
Ben Halloran missed a chance to score a goal early, which would prove costly for Adelaide United. Sydney FC were clearly impacted by the loss of midfielder Josh Brillante. Joel King played a superb cross that led to a penalty being given for a handball against Michael Jakobsen and the first goal of the game for Sydney FC’s Adam Le Fondre.
Ben Halloran hit the post from a position where he should have scored from. Joel King squandered a chance to score at the other end of the field shortly after. Adelaide United’s Nikola Mileusnic had a shot well saved by the Sydney FC goalkeeper Thomas Heward-Belle.
Adam Le Fondre finished off an exquisite move thanks to Milos Ninkovic and Alexander Baumjohann with the lead up work. Riley McGree missed a good opportunity to score a goal. George Blackwood squandered a chance to score.
Possession was fairly even at half time and both teams had three shots on target. Adelaide United had completed over double the number of passes and had seven crosses completed to Sydney FC’s one.
Al Hassan Toure made the score 2-all. Kosta Barbarouses made the score 3-2, that was until VAR intervened to rule the goal out for offside. Michael Jakobsen cleared a shot from Barbarouses that prevented a goal. Brandon O’Neill took a great corner that was headed into the back of the net by new signing Ryan McGowan late in the game that gave Sydney FC a one-goal win.
Magic moment: Mileusnic scored a stunning free kick that was pretty much unstoppable to decrease the deficit to one goal at half time, which wasn’t only a magic moment for this game, but perhaps for the season in its entirety. It may be a highlight shown at the completion of the season.
Who stood out from the pack? Sydney FC’s left back Joel King had an assist and played an outstanding game.
What went right? The game was a great attacking spectacle with five goals scored. The game was full of action, entertainment and talking points.
What went wrong? Adelaide had three shots on target from seven shots in the first half. Ryan Strain was shown a red card in the second half for preventing a goal-scoring opportunity. Adam Le Fondre should have scored a hat trick, but was well saved by Adelaide United goalkeeper Paul Izzo. It was a losing start for Adelaide United’s new manager Gertjan Verbeek.
Western Sydney Wanderers vs Central Coast Mariners
Wanderers win somehow
The game was largely uneventful for the majority of the first half, until the Central Coast broke the deadlock thanks to Milan Duric in the 36th minute. Thankfully the game was all square at half time thanks to a good headed goal from a corner by Western Sydney captain, Mitchell Duke.
The Central Coast were probably the better team in the first half. Mark Birighitti made a superb double save to keep the score at 1-all. There was a penalty given to Western Sydney due to a hand ball by Central Coast’s Dylan Fox, which led to a goal by Mitchell Duke.
There was an opportunity for Central Coast to score late on from a corner, with the ball rebounding around in the penalty box and Western Sydney were lucky to get away with all three points.
Magic moment: Duric scored a fantastic goal, which was clearly the highlight of the game.
Who stood out from the pack? Western Sydney’s Captain Mitchell Duke scored a brace.
What went right? Both teams had a new captain, with Western Sydney giving Mitchell Duke the opportunity, while Central Coast appointed Tommy Oar, with usual skipper Matt Simon suspended. The atmosphere was relatively good with the crowd cheering loudly, but that’s what you’d expect from the first game at a new stadium.
What went wrong? Jack Clisby wasted a free kick that should have been better. Tarek Elrich suffered a hamstring injury and had to be substituted off relatively early on. The game was monotonous and of a low standard until the first goal. Jordan Murray squandered a couple of chances to score in the second half that would have resulted in the Central Coast Mariners getting something out of the game.
Melbourne Victory vs Melbourne City
Heated scoreless draw
The game ebbed and flowed in the first half. From an attacking point of view, the game was disappointing with both sides not clinical in the final third in the first half. Consequently, neither team could break the deadlock in the first half. The same was the case in the second half as the game ended in a scoreless draw.
Magic moment: There wasn’t anything to speak of, except for perhaps Elvis Kamsoba’s disallowed goal.
Who stood out from the pack? Melbourne City defender Harrison Delbridge was exceptional.
What went right? The game was a high tempo early on, with the game played at a frenetic pace. The atmosphere in the stadium was first class. Both teams were exceptional defensively in the first half, which both managers would be pleased with, as they implemented a clear system and a methodical structure.
What went wrong? Lachlan Wales missed an elementary chance in the first part of the game. Storm Roux played a disappointing cross that Ola Toivonen probably would have scored had it been a better cross. Elvis Kamsoba had a goal overturned by VAR due to being offside – it was the right decision, but a disappointing outcome for Melbourne Victory as it would have given them the lead. Andrew Nabbout ruined a golden opportunity to score with a careless pass. The game was fairly even with a scoreless draw probably a fair result. Scott Jamieson was fortunate not to get a second yellow card and be sent off.
Wellington Phoenix vs Western United
Western United win across the ditch
Besart Berisha had an opportunity to score early with a header that went wide. Alessandro Diamanti had a good shot from long range saved by Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic.
Magic moment: Liberato Cacace took a long shot that was well saved by Western United goalkeeper Filip Kurto.
Who stood out from the pack? Connor Pain of Western United was outstanding on the left wing.
What went right? Besart Berisha scored the opening goal of the game and Western United’s first goal in their history. Diamanti had a good shot well saved by Marinovic late in the game. Scott McDonald had a great shot from outstide the area stopped by Marinovic.
What went wrong? David Ball missed a golden opportunity to put Wellington Phoenix ahead. Scott McDonald missed a chance to score from a cross by Connor Pain. In the second half, Alex Rufer had a good sight on goal, but missed the target with a header.
Perth Glory vs Brisbane Roar
Roar claim deserved point
The Perth Glory controlled the tempo of the game and thus it was a fairly monotonous contest in the first half, but the Brisbane Roar took the ascendancy in the second half, controlling the possession and the balance of play and they were rewarded with an equaliser late.
Magic moment: Chris Ikonomidis did well to finish from a Diego Castro cross. Ikonomidis scored the opening goal of the match.
Who stood out from the pack? I don’t think the Perth Glory would have got anything out of the game if Alex Grant wasn’t in the team.
What went right? Stefan Mauk had a good chance well saved by Perth Glory goalkeeper Liam Reddy. Roy O’Donovan scored an equaliser late on to help them the Brisbane Roar claim a point.
What went wrong? Chris Ikonomidis squandered a good chance to score early. Roy O’Donovan should have scored from a header around the 30th minute mark, which would have altered the balance of play, as Perth Glory went up 1-nil shortly after. This game was the worst one to watch as a neutral spectator with both sides offering little in the final third and the game played at a slow tempo for its entirety. Despite that, Perth Glory were okay in patches in the first half, while the Brisbane Roar controlled the game in the second half.