However, last Friday night, Beijing was in serious danger, two goals down at home to the struggling Guizhou Renhe.
It looked as if it wasn’t going to happen at all when the usually reliable Dejan Damjanovic missed a 56thminute penalty.
Yet shortly after, Yu Dabao pulled a goal back and seven minutes from time Argentinian star Pablo Batella equalised. The hosts pushed for the winner that never quite came.
Still, Yu, one of China’s top attacking players with more than his fair share of creativity is starting to find his form and that spells danger for the visitors.
It was still a disappointing result but Beijing did rest Damjanovic, bringing him on in the second half and were without the suspended Chen Zhizhao, the man Brisbane fans will remember well for his injury time free-kick that gave the Chinese Super League team a 1-0 win on the Gold Coast.
Both should start when the Hyundai A-League team come to town (though Spanish coach Gregorio Manzano has been indulging in a rotation policy of late).
Defender Lang Zheng is suspended however and while classy defensive midfielder Dario Matic picked up a slight knock, the Bosnian should be good to go.
Shao Jiayi could too. The experienced midfielder doesn’t play too often these days but made a real difference in the second half on Friday.
If there is any good news for the Australians, it is this: Beijing has still not quite reached the same levels of fluency this season as they had in the latter stages of 2014 when it pushed Guangzhou Evergrande all the way in the title race.
There may have been no defeats of late but four of the last five have been drawn. For Beijing, a point would secure a place in the last 16. Manzano has told Chinese media that his team will go for the win but then coaches always say that.
The hosts may be happy however to let Brisbane make most of the running.
The fans may not. There should be a big crowd at the Beijing Workers’ Stadium and they expect nothing less than a win to see their team progress to the last 16 in style.
As for Brisbane, after two losses on the trot to Hyundai A-League Premier’s Plate winners in waiting Melbourne Victory, they arrive in Beijing low on confidence though excited in the knowledge that they have qualified for Finals Series football in Australia.
Roar, in third spot in the group, will need to win in Beijing and have Suwon lose to the bottom placed Japanese outfit Red Diamonds for their Group G chances to dramatically change.
If so, they’d be equal with second-placed Suwon on seven points.
Should that scenario play out, Roar then faces the J-League side at home with Suwon hosting Beijing in their respective final match-days in the group.
Sounds a tough ask but in football, you just never know.
Roar did rest their big names in last Saturday’s 1-0 loss in Brisbane (albeit courtesy of a controversially given penalty to the Victorians), which offers them some hope with the likes of Broich and Co. back out on the pitch on Tuesday night at the Workers Stadium.
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Tony Popovic’s Asian Champions are currently second in the group – level on five points with FC Seoul – but the Antlers are just two points behind.
It sets up a thrilling climax to Group H with one group stage match-day to go after this Tuesday night.
Western Sydney Wanderers should go into it with confidence having come-from-behind to beat Adelaide United 2-1 in the Hyundai A-League on Saturday.
“We’ll go in with a real positive mindset. There’s a lot we can take from [Saturday’s match against Adelaide United]. If things aren’t going for us, we know we can come back,” Popovic said.
“We’re looking forward to Tuesday and it’s a big game for us. We’re used to big games here and with our fans behind us we want to get those three points.”
if the Wanderers are to make the knockout stage they need all three points here, with a tough away trip against group leaders Guangzhou Evergrande to come on the final match-day.
Meanwhile, Kashima have settled well into their Sydney surroundings, happily tweeting their approval of the Autumnal weather and good training facilities in the Harbour City.
Kashima lost in the previous clash between these two sides in Japan, but have found form over the last month. Hence the smiles.
Toninho Cerezo’s Antlers are unbeaten in their last five games in the J-League and ACL – including a memorable win over leaders Guangzhou a fortnight ago as well as a 3-1 victory over Kashiwa Reysol in league action on the weekend.
Ominously for the Wanderers, all the Japanese side’s top players are hitting peak form.
Samurai Blue rising star Gaku Shibasaki is one the home side must watch, while Brazilian Caio (and birthday boy) might be young but has loads of ability.
Yasushi Endo in midfield is now a stalwart for the club and also looms as a threat to the Wanderers’ hopes.
Meanwhile, Western Sydney will be sweating on the fitness of skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who is struggling with a foot injury.
Labinot Halit and Iacopo La Rocca were rested from domestic action on the weekend and should return while it will be interesting to see who he goes for to lead the line.
Popovic has preferred to use Kerem Bulut from the start in the ACL, leaving Socceroo striker Tomi Juric as a weapon off the bench in the second half.
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All four quarter-finals of Tassie’s Lakoseljac Trophy were packed with drama and exhilarating individual brilliance.
Kingborough Lions United pulled off an incredible comeback at Lightwood Park to keep their Westfield FFA Cup dreams alive.
Trailing 2-0 with just 10-minutes left against Hobart Zebras, super-sub Lewis Verdouw came on to save United.
He set up Nick Cuthbertson’s goal to halve the deficit before scoring himself five minutes from the end to send the match to extra-time.
But Verdouw wasn’t done there. He grabbed a second with a clinical header in the first-half of extra-time before Dean Watkins completed an incredible 4-2 victory at the death.
There was another brilliant fightback at Sandown Park as Beachside moved into Tassie’s last four with a 4-2 win over University.
Goals either side of the break to Luke Huigsloot and Toby Macgregor had Uni in cruise control before Beachside responded.
It was a 28-minute period of destruction for the hosts.
Ryan Thurley pulled one back just before the hour mark before a brace to Sam Hamilton and Henry Jones’ late goal ensured the result.
Elsewhere, a final minute goal from Schalde Anderson enabled the Northern Rangers to edge out Olympia FC Warriors 2-1 at NTCA.
Defending Cup winners and Tassie’s 2014 Westfield FFA Cup representatives South Hobart are also still alive following a 3-1 win over Launceston City at Mitsubishi Park.
After scores were level at 1-1 at the break, South eased into the semis thanks to goals from Brayden Mann and a Ben Hamlett penalty.
Image courtesy: Pless Pix
Keep up to date with all the latest Westfield FFA Cup news, videos fixtures and results by heading to www.theffacup.com.au.
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When the men in Green and Gold last came to town, in March 2005, a talented local footballer called Trent Sainsbury was 13-years of age.
We’re not sure if the then Armadale junior and now Socceroos and PEC Zwolle star was one of the 13,719 at Subiaco Oval that night, but he would have witnessed a good night for the home side.
The opponents were Indonesia, in a match organized to raise money for victims of the previous year’s Boxing Day Tsunami.
In an emotional start to the contest there was a minute’s silence in tribute to the lives lost, while the players donated their match fees to the fundraiser.
Having played Iraq in a friendly just three days earlier, coach Frank Farina opted to rest stars like Tim Cahill, Mark Bresciano and Mark Schwarzer from the clash.
Instead it was a host of local-based players that were given an opportunity to impress, such as current Socceroo assistant coach Ante Milicic, Jon McKain and Simon Colosimo.
After a slow start by the Aussies they finally clicked into gear midway through the first-half and scored the opener with their first meaningful shot on goal.
Stan Lazaridis surged forward down the left wing and his pin-point cross was glanced in by Milicic at the near post.
A simple move but a text-book goal.
The Aussies extended their lead 12 minutes into the second half when Milicic capped a memorable day with his second.
Crystal Palace defender Tony Popovic headed a corner down to the striker, who got a slight touch on it to divert it past Hendro Kartiko in Indonesia’s goal.
The icing on the cake for the Socceroos came five minutes from the end as two substitutes combined for a deserved third.
Winger Ahmed Elrich drove towards goal before passing to David Zdrillic, who had time to turn in the six-yard box before slamming it home.
Western Australian football fans are counting down the days until they get to see the Socceroos in action in a Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh.
Perth fans will be hoping for a similar result in September when Ange Postecoglou’s side step up their push to qualify for a fourth consecutive World Cup.
And it’s set to be a special night for Sainsbury as the green and gold come to town. If the 23-year-old gets on the pitch, it’ll be a moment to remember for Australia’s new defensive star.
And who knows, in the crowd at nib Stadium just might be another future Socceroo?
Socceroos vs Bangladesh
Thursday 3 September, 2015
Kick Off 7.00pm
Gates Open 5.30pm
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What a thriller at the ‘Cake Tin’. Phoenix produced an astonishing fightback to overturn a two-goal half-time deficit to win 3-2 thanks to Kenny Cunningham’s strike in the fifth minute of stoppage time. Talk about leaving it late. Roly Bonevacia got the comeback started before Cunningham proved to be the super-sub, coming off the bench and scoring a brace late-on. The result keeps Phoenix right on the tail of Sydney FC in the race for a top-two berth, with the two meeting in a final-round blockbuster next weekend.
Just days after being unveiled as the new full-time coach, Tony Walmsley will be scratching his head how his side threw this one away. The Mariners appeared to be cruising to their first away win in 14 matches as Nick Fitzgerald’s strike and a trademark Eddy Bosnar power free-kick had them 2-0 up. But the half-time break swung the momentum. The Mariners were hit by a Phoenix tidal wave and couldn’t hold out. It’s the 20thtime in Hyundai A-League history the Mariners have held a 2-0 lead…and the first time they’ve lost from this position.
Phil Stubbins’ Jets went within a whisker of claiming their second big scalp in as many weeks. In a breathless contest at Hunter Stadium on Friday night, the Jets gave the Sky Blues a massive scare but were edged-out 4-3 in a seven-goal thriller. What a great advertisement it was for the Hyundai A-League. The Jets took the game to Sydney FC and led 1-0 at half-time through Enver Alivodic before a slow start to the second half found them 3-1 down. But this Jets side is full of character and spirit. They got back on level terms through Edson Montano and Andrew Hoole before the Sky Blues stole it 10 minutes from time.
The Sky Blues’ defensive frailties popped up again which won’t be pleasing coach Graham Arnold. But going forward they are looking great heading into the finals. After a half-time rev-up from Arnie, Sydney FC was devastating in attack with skipper Alex Brosque scoring two [his second brace in as many weeks] and another from Bernie Ibini putting them 3-1 up only to let the home side back into it. Substitute Robert Stambolziev spared the Sky Blues blushes with his first goal for the club. The victory maintains Sydney’s fabulous unbeaten record on the road this season.
The Wanderers moved off the bottom of the Hyundai A-League ladder thanks to a spirited 2-1 win over Adelaide United. Pirtek Stadium was rocking in the second half as a Tomi Juric penalty and clinical Mark Bridge strike saw the Wanderers over-turn a 1-0 half-time deficit. It was the perfect way for Bridge to cap his 200th game in the competition. Just the ninth player to achieve that milestone, too. It’s the perfect lead-in to a massive AFC Champions League game against Kashima Antlers on Tuesday night which will go a long way to determining their fate in the Continental competition.
Have the Reds hit the skids at the worst possible time? The 2-1 defeat to the Wanderers was their second in a row and scuppered any hopes of finishing in the top-two. They looked on track for all three points after Sergio Cirio’s curling effort on the stroke of half-time but things turned on Nigel Boogaard’s red card just after the hour mark. Josep Gombau’s side got into a host of good areas but are clearly missing the creativity and class of the injured Marcelo Carrusca. The good news for the Reds is he should be back against City next weekend.
It was Groundhog Day for Roar, losing by the odd goal to Melbourne Victory for the second time in just four days. Mark Milligan’s first-half penalty was enough for Victory to get a 1-0 win at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night. Coach Frans Thijssen rested the likes of Thomas Broich, Matt McKay and Luke Brattan with one eye on Tuesday’s massive ACL clash in China. His crop of youngsters didn’t disappoint though, hitting the woodwork twice as they went close to pinching a result. The club’s future looks bright given the eye-catching performances from the youngsters against the league leaders.
Kevin Muscat’s side all-but secured the Premiers’ Plate with a gritty 1-0 win over the defending champions. With one game to go they have a three-point lead over Sydney FC in second but their seven-goal superior goal difference means top-spot is pretty much assured. Skipper Milligan slammed home a contentious spot-kick which proved to be enough. Victory weren’t at their fluent best but showed the type of characteristics of champions by digging in and getting the result. A big party awaits with next weekend’s final regular season match against the Mariners.
Glory didn’t let the salary cap situation affect their performance, disposing of Melbourne City FC 3-1 at nib Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Super-sub Jamie Maclaren was given a rare start and made the most of the opportunity, bagging an impressive hat-trick. The result will be a big lift in what’s been a tough week for the club. Glory had almost half the attempts on goal as the visitors but had goalkeeper Danny Vukovic in superb form to ensure a positive result for the men in purple.
It was a case of what could have been for John van ‘t Schip’s side on a tough trip to the West. They squandered a host of good scoring chances against Glory but found Vukovic in imperious form. How good has “Vuko” been this year! Frenchman Harry Novillo had a running battle with the Glory gloveman and come off second best every time. The red card of Paulo Retre just before the break didn’t help City’s cause. The only bright spot was a cracking goal from Aaron Mooy, who curled a sublime free-kick over the wall and into the corner of the net.
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