Socceroos World Cup hopeful James Troisi moved into second spot in the race for the Golden Boot, scoring the equaliser as Melbourne Victory drew 1-1 with Sydney FC in the A-League clash at AAMI Park.
Sydney FC moved into sixth spot on the table at Newcastle’s expense, although the Jets can go back ahead of them if they get a result against the Perth Glory on Sunday night.
Victory would have gone into second spot with a win, but instead remain fourth with two rounds of the home and away season to play.
Making his first start since December, striker Joel Chianese opened the scoring for the Sky Blues in the 48th minute.
Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas could only parry a strike from Ali Abbas straight into the path of Chianese, who sidefooted home from close range.
Melbourne got back on level terms in the 64th minute after skipper Mark Milligan won the ball on the edge of the area.
Gui Finkler got the ball on to Troisi, whose first-time strike from a tight angle beat Vedran Janjetovic in the Sydney goal.
It was Troisi’s 11th goal of the campaign, putting him level with Brisbane’s Besart Berisha and Melbourne Heart’s David Williams, who are all two behind Jets forward Adam Taggart in the race to be the league’s leading scorer.
Melbourne’s best scoring opportunity of the first half fell to Kosta Barbarouses in the 32nd minute.
The New Zealand international shimmied right and then left before hitting a firm shot just wide of the right upright.
The Sky Blues may have been unlucky not to be awarded a penalty on the stroke of halftime when an Alessandro Del Piero free kick appeared to strike the arm of Victory right-back Scott Galloway.
The incident was missed by referee Jarred Gillett, with Del Piero and Milligan exchanging angry words as they walked off at halftime.
After drawing level through Troisi, the Victory looked the more likely of the two teams to snatch a winner with further chances falling to Jimmy Jeggo, Adama Traore and Troisi.
Chianese also mishit a shot at the other end in the 78th minute.
Victory coach Kevin Muscat chose to rest star midfielder Tom Rogic, who has had a heavy playing schedule since joining the club from Celtic midway through the season.
The Victory must now turn their focus to a crucial Asian Champions League clash away to Japanese powerhouse Yokohama F Marinos on Wednesday.
Sydney’s next match is an A-League home clash against Wellington Phoenix on April 6.