The Roar
The Roar


Penalty savers and playmakers: The A-League players who were the difference in Round 21

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Roar Guru
17th March, 2024

Round 21 was an entertaining one, which started with a four-goal thriller, coached by former Socceroos John Aloisi and Tony Popovic, between Western United and Melbourne Victory.

There were only five games, as Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne City didn’t feature. In all four games where a team claimed three points the margin was one goal. Along with that, in three out of those four matches, the score was 2-1 and in the same amount of games, the winning team had less possession than their opponent.

Check out who made a difference in the ten teams that featured.

Western United

Daniel Penha helped Western United claim a draw, but it should’ve been more.

The quality that the playmaker possesses was there for all to see; he helped Western United control the balance of play and the tempo of the game in the first half.

The Brazilian broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute. To go with that, he provided the pass that Ben Garuccio cooly finished in the 90th minute, which made the final score 2-2.

Post-match his humility shone through when referring to Garuccio scoring: “I’m so happy to give an assist. Very happy for him to score.”


Melbourne Victory

Paul Izzo saved a penalty, which altered the momentum of the game; the contest would’ve been over if not for the intervention of the shot-stopper. At the time the score was 1-0 in favour of Western United, in the 56th minute when Izzo saved a shot from Michael Ruhs. At 2-0 the game may well have been over.

Newcastle Jets

Ryan Scott had a great game for Newcastle and was unfortunate to end up on the losing side, and probably had the best chance to score for Newcastle in the 94th minute. “I should’ve scored, probably our best chance tonight.”

The-shot stopper gave us interesting insight: “Not good enough from us. It’s been a theme for us. Same old story for us this season. They were better than us, they deserved the win.”

Along with that, he gave an indication of the impact of the off-field issues: “It’s hard that we don’t have that stability. It’s out of control, but can’t let it affect us.”


Adelaide United

Luka Jovanovic played a key part, as the Reds substitute provided a moment of brilliance by scoring the only goal of the game in the 80th minute, where he glided past a couple of Newcastle defenders and finished well.

The young striker gave an interesting insight: “We got there in the end. I think just as a team we need to have belief.”

Wellington Phoenix

Kosta Barbarouses played a pivotal role in both goals scored by the Phoenix.

The 34-year-old is playing as if his in the prime of his career. The first goal was a great pass by him, which led to an own goal by Hayden Matthews of the Sky Blues in the 54th minute. Barbarouses wasn’t done yet, as he made a marauding run down the Phoenix’s right-hand side and scored what proved to be the winning goal from an assist provided by substitute Youstin Salas.

Kosta Barbarouses and Tim Payne celebrate (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)


The Kiwi international has arguably been the most influential player in the league this season, which he proved in Phoenix’s come-from-behind win over the Sky Blues. Giancarlo Italiano has often referred to Barbarouses’ leadership.

Sydney FC

Robert Mak opened the scoring in the sixth minute, with a quality finish from an assist by Anthony Caceres. In the 23rd minute the Slovakian whipped in a tantalising cross from a corner, which Gabriel Lacerda hit the post with, unfortunately for the Sky Blues.

Brisbane Roar

Marco Rojas never stopped trying and brought about the opening goal of the game with a shot that resulted in Filip Kurto saving the ball and Florin Berenguer scoring in the 14th minute.

The ‘Kiwi Messi’ did some good things and was unfortunate not to score, as he hit the post in the 78th minute, which summed up the game for the Roar; they just didn’t take their chances.

Macarthur FC


Clayton Lewis put in a good shift for the Bulls.

The 27-year-old was outstanding in his general play and got the all-important assist from a corner he took; he provided pinpoint delivery, which led to a goal from centre-back Tomislav Uskok, which made the score 1-1 in the 26th minute.

The Kiwi international’s comments were honest: “We started pretty sloppy. We got a goal from a corner, so pretty happy about that. We tried to press against Mariners and we got it all wrong.”

Perth Glory

Daniel Bennie played a great game, in what was a poor performance from the Glory.

The 17-year-old showed what an exciting prospect that he’s proving to be; he created four chances and had one shot on target.

The young prospect was a shining light, however one player can only do so much, as Glory co-captain Adam Taggart said post-match: “Collectively we need to be better as a group.”


Western Sydney Wanderers

Marcelo had a solid game and was in the right place at the right time.

(Photo by Steve Christo – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

The 36-year-old defended well and played a key role in the second goal scored, as Marcelo willed himself to win a header, which led to what proved to be the winning goal scored by substitute Lachlan Brook for the Wanderers in the 83rd minute.

The Brazilian made some thought-provoking post-match comments: “Today we showed the real Western Sydney Wanderers. To us, it was a really important win.”

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