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Losers are grinners as A-League pacesetters stumble

Soccer

Frontrunners Brisbane and Western Sydney both stumbled in round 15 of the A-League but it’s the team at the bottom looking to make the biggest leap forward.

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Stragglers Central Coast trumpeted the signing of Liverpool legend Luis Garcia for the rest of the season on Saturday, breathing new life into a campaign bordering on irrelevancy.

The Mariners remain mired in last spot after a 3-1 defeat in Adelaide left them with just one win from their past 14 games.

But the announced arrival of the former Spanish international and Champions League winner during the game overshadowed the result as it also did the defeats to both the competition’s heavyweights.

“This signing is currently the only globally recognisable marquee player in the Hyundai A-League for this season so far,” Mariners coach Tony Walmsley said of the 37-year-old.

His first outing could be against the Wanderers, who suffered a heartbreaking back-to-back 2-1 loss to Sydney FC thanks to a 90th-minute goal from substitute Shane Smeltz on Saturday.

Dario Vidosic cancelled Jacques Faty’s opener but Smeltz stole the show with a winner that left the Wanderers without derby joy since January 2014.

Tony Popovic’s men remain in second spot but are joined by the Sky Blues on 27 points.

Brisbane were stunned 4-0 by Melbourne Victory in the round-opener on Friday, sliced to bits in a three-goal first half that alleviated any doubt over the defending champions.

Kosta Barbarouses bagged a brace and Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Besart Berisha netted once each to heap more pain on Roar coach John Aloisi’s return to AAMI Park.

Meanwhile, Newcastle ended a 566-minute goal drought by finding the back of the net three times in a possible season-changing performance against Wellington yesterday.

Veteran David Carney wound back the clock, toying with an inexperienced Phoenix backline to play a part in each of the Jets’ goals, including one of his own on the counter.

And all it took was a mid-week shift to have Carney join Milos Trifunovic as a second striker, their 3-1 win now leaving them within touching distance of the top six.

“We changed it slightly. We wanted more numbers around Milos, playing off the platform up there,” coach Scott Miller said.

In the other match of the round, Melbourne City twice gave up a lead to a Perth Glory side that played part of the second half with just 10 men, the result a 2-2 draw.

The one point means just three points separate leaders Brisbane from fourth-placed City.

In further player movement at Gosford, Anthony Caceras is likely to join Nick Fitzgerald at Melbourne City after being bought out by Manchester City.

-AAP

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