Perth draws with Brisbane to stay top in A-League
SYDNEY (AP) — Argentine striker Henrique scored in the 86th minute to give defending champion Brisbane a 1-1 draw with leader Perth in Australian football’s A-League, avoiding a losing start for new coach Franz Thijssen.
Thijssen took over this week from Mike Mulvey who led Brisbane to last year’s A-League title but was dismissed after guiding the Roar to only one win in its first six matches this season.
Perth, which had gone ahead through Dino Djulbic in the 20th minute, stayed atop the A-League table, a point ahead of Melbourne Victory which beat third-placed Adelaide United 3-2.
Perth coach Kenny Lowe said Brisbane was not the same side without prolific Albanian striker Besart Berisha, who is now with the Victory.
“They’re just lacking (Besart) Berisha,” Lowe said. “They’re keeping the ball, moving the ball, getting up to the 18 (yard box). They just need a big horrible center forward who munches people and scores goals.”
Henrique has worked hard to fill the void and his five goals in seven games put him level among the league’s leading scorers this season with Berisha and Perth’s Andy Keogh.
Melbourne Victory moved temporarily to the top of the table before being overtaken by Perth. The Victory inflicted Adelaide’s first loss of the season in an ill-tempered game in which six players were booked.
All five goals were scored between the seventh and 37th minutes and Melbourne was never headed after Nigel Boogaard’s own goal gave it an early 1-0 lead.
Awer Mabil equalized for Adelaide in the 14th minute before Sergio Cirio’s own goal put the Victory ahead 2-1 just two minutes later.
Leigh Bloxham made the lead 3-1 in the 32nd minute, giving Melbourne some insurance against an Adelaide comeback which stalled after Marcelo Carrusca’s 37th minute penalty.
Sydney drew 1-1 with Western Sydney Wanderers in the local derby to remain unbeaten and in fourth place after eight rounds.
Australia striker Tomi Juric gave the Wanderers a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute but Bernie Ibini equalized four minutes later.
Wellington’s Nathan Burns scored a hattrick as the Phoenix trounced Melbourne City 5-1 and Newcastle drew 1-1 with Central Coast.