Melbourne Heart improved its chances for a top-six playoff berth with a 2-0 win over the last-placed Perth Glory tonight while the Central Coast Mariners firmed as first-place finishers in the A-League.
While Heart moved into fifth place, the Mariners extended their first-place lead to six points over second-placed Melbourne Victory after a 5-0 win over Wellington Phoenix. Victory, meanwhile, lost 1-0 on Friday to Adelaide United.
The first-year Western Sydney Wanderers could move into second place, just four points behind the Mariners, if they beat Newcastle in a later match Saturday.
Sydney FC and its high-profile recruit, former Juventus and Italy striker Alessandro Del Piero, will also try to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot when the Sky Blues close out the 20th round on Sunday against defending champions Brisbane.
There are seven regular-season rounds remaining. Nick Kalmar scored in the 23rd minute to give the Heart a 1-0 lead before Eli Babalj concluded the scoring in the 57th minute, handing the Glory their 11th loss in 20 matches.
Adelaide's Jeronimo Neumann scored the 43rd-minute winner in a bad-tempered match at Adelaide's Hindmarsh Stadium featuring six yellow cards and one red.
The home side received five yellow cards in the opening 40 minutes, resulting in caretaker coach Michael Valkanis being sent from the sidelines.
Neumann scored as Valkanis was marching down the tunnel to the dressing room.
Valkanis said his first win as coach since replacing John Kosmina two weeks ago was important for the club.
''We needed to have this win because we have been through quite a bit in the last couple of weeks,'' Valkanis said.
''I really wanted the players to show that passion, that aggression, to win a game.'' On Thursday, Bernie Ibini scored in the 30th and 87th minutes as the Mariners shut out the Phoenix.
Ibini's second goal, created by a through ball from Daniel McBreen, was followed by another from substitute Mitchell Duke. McBreen, the league's leading goal scorer, scored his 15th of the season in the 69th minute as the Mariners extended their undefeated home record this season to 10 games - nine wins and a draw.
Wellington coach Ricki Herbert didn't mince words after the match. ''We were hopeless tonight ... we were dreadful,'' he said. ''It was an embarrassing night for the club.''
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