Melbourne Victory’s 1-0 defeat of Perth Glory on Friday night presents an intriguing insight into the power that perceptions can hold over the A-League.
Despite being little better than Victory on a functional level, Glory outpossessed, outcrossed and outshot its foes but failed to find the back of the net at AAMI Park.
Thus, Robbie Kruse’s 33rd-minute goal served to secure Victory the win and, in doing so, shifted the tone of Victory’s season.
Sitting second bottom of the league entering Round 8, the win sees Victory only missing the top six on goal difference.
Coach Marco Kurz was recruited in part because he was seen as a safe pair of hands to guide Victory’s transition to a post-Kevin Muscat era.
With the pressure somewhat off him, now he can head towards next week’s clash against Western United with an opportunity to build rather than defend.
Victory is unlikely to be able to use Friday evening’s contest as a sustainable template to kickstart its season, with many questions still remaining.
Still, it could tip either way.
If Kruse can find some form, things are looking up.
If United gets a win at Geelong, it’s back to square one.
The early-season honeymoon for Markus Babbel’s Western Sydney Wanderers ended against Newcastle Jets on Saturday after goals from Dimi Petratos and Angus Thurgate – the 19-year-old christened the ‘Pele of Port Macquarie’ by fans.
The Wanderers, with their suavely dressed gaffer on the sidelines of a shiny new stadium, were top of the league after Round 4 but have now suffered three straight defeats.
Babbel will have to show off more than just a flash wardrobe to right the Red and Black ship in coming weeks.
In Queensland, Brisbane Roar secured its second win of the season after downing Central Coast 2-0 at Suncorp Stadium, thanks to goals from Roy O’Donovan and Scott Neville.
Western United’s lean run of form continued on Sunday, as it lost 2-0 to champions Sydney FC in Geelong, thanks to an Adam Le Fondre double.
Sydney wasn’t at its best in the contest – a fact coach Steve Corica admitted post-game – but United’s profligacy in front of goal stretched into a third straight defeat before next week’s derby.
Adelaide United’s four-game winning run ended at the hands of Wellington Phoenix in the final game of the round.
The ‘Nix recovering from going behind to a Nikola Mileusnic goal-of-the-season contender to win 2-1, thanks to David Ball and Ulises Davila.
Wanderer women are winners
Western Sydney’s W-League side continued its highly impressive start to the season, riding a Kristen Hamilton hat-trick and strong performances from Lynn Williams and Kyra Cooney-Cross to a 3-1 win over Brisbane Roar.
Surrendering a 2-0 lead to two Tara Andrews penalties late in the first half, Canberra United bounced back and recorded its second win of the season.
Elise Thorsnes’ 81st-minute winner secured a 3-2 win against Newcastle Jets.
An eighth-minute goal from Kyah Simon was enough for Melbourne City on Saturday afternoon.
The three-time W-League champions continue to notch points despite not blowing sides out of the water in defeating Adelaide United 1-0 at Shepparton, while Sydney defeated Perth Glory 3-1 on Sunday.
Best of the rest – European dreaming
Set to kick off in June of next year, the draw for the 16th iteration of the European Championships is complete.
The tournament will open in Rome with Turkey facing Italy.
They were drawn in Group A alongside Wales and Switzerland.
World No.1-ranked Belgium was drawn in Group B alongside Denmark, Finland and Russia while the Dutch, Ukraine, Austria and a playoff winner were sorted into Group C.
In Group E, Spain, Poland, Sweden and a playoff winner will lock horns.
Group D and F, though, are where the fun begins.
Always hard at it England and Croatia will renew their burgeoning rivalry – which in recent times included a World Cup semi-final – in Group D alongside a playoff winner and Czech Republic.
An unfortunate playoff winner sorted into Group F will have to contend with a three-headed dragon of France, Portugal and Germany – the reigning world champions, European champions and 2014 World champions.