Dylan Ruiz-Diaz's first A-League goals condemned Melbourne Victory to a club-record fifth successive loss as Central Coast Mariners claimed a late 3-2 triumph, ending a lengthy winless run of their own.

Rock-bottom Mariners looked set to conclude their A-League season with a sequence of 13 matches without a victory, but 19-year-old substitute Ruiz-Diaz turned things around in the final five minutes to earn them a first win since January 12, when they also beat Monday's opponents 3-2.

Marco Rojas' brace either side of Dylan Fox's effort early in the second half had Victory in charge, but Ruiz-Diaz – brought on just before the hour-mark – levelled in the 85th minute with an emphatic finish.

He then clinched the three points four minutes later, slotting in after latching onto Milan Djuric's throughball to end the Mariners' winless streak and inflict an unwanted club record on second-bottom Victory.

Brisbane Roar did just enough to see out a 2-1 A-League win over strugglers Melbourne Victory to boost their Finals and AFC Champions League qualification hopes.

Roar broke the deadlock early in the second half – Scott McDonald heading in Bradden Inman's cross, though Matt Acton in the Victory net will have been frustrated after getting a hand to it.

Matthew Ridenton made it 2-0 12 minutes from time, nodding home following a flowing team move, with Andrew Nabbout's subsequent penalty soon after coming too late to inspire a turnaround.

The result gives Warren Moon his first win in charge and consolidates Roar's position in fourth, giving them an eight-point cushion in the Finals qualification places. Victory remain second-from-bottom.

Wellington Phoenix saw their Premiers' Plate hopes ended by a 1-1 draw at home to Adelaide United on Saturday.

Sydney FC cannot now be caught at the top of the regular-season standings after a late missed penalty from Ulises Davila proved costly.

Kristian Opseth powered home a header on the hour mark to put the visitors ahead at Bankwest Stadium, but Jaushua Sotirio levelled five minutes later.

Adelaide keeper Paul Izzo made three fine saves to keep Wellington at bay, although arguably the most comfortable of those was from Davila's tame penalty with three minutes to go.

The result means Wellington are 11 points behind Sydney, having played a game more, while Adelaide remain in the top six despite Western United's 2-1 win at Melbourne Victory.

A fine half-volley from Tomislav Uskok and a powerful strike from the excellent Max Burgess put United ahead, with a looping, glancing header from Storm Roux proving scant consolation.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) released the schedule for the remaining matches of the coronavirus-hit A-League season, with a bonanza of 27 games in 28 matches before a quick-fire finals series.

The 2019-20 A-League campaign has been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 crisis, but Australia's premier football competition is set to restart on July 16 followed by a five-game finals series – the Grand Final to take place on August 23.

A derby between Melbourne Victory and Western United – originally scheduled for AAMI Park in Melbourne – will be played at a stadium still to be determined due to a spike in coronavirus cases in the state.

Six venues will be used in New South Wales and Queensland with the potential for more to be added subject to government regulations – ANZ Stadium (NSW), Bankwest Stadium (NSW), Central Coast Stadium (NSW), McDonald Jones Stadium (NSW), Jubilee Stadium (NSW) and Cbus Stadium (QLD).

"Over the past three months all stakeholders have been working hard together with one goal in mind – To finish what we started," FFA's Head of Leagues Greg O'Rourke said on Wednesday.

"We know the COVID-19 environment has been very difficult for many people in our community and we hope that delivering an extravaganza of matches will allow our fans to basically see a game everyday will be a unique experience for those who have stood by us.

"As we are a truly national game, the current border controls means that some of the match day venues may need to change, however we have secured venues in both a NSW Hub model and a hybrid hub model which has most games in NSW but allows for a few games in other states.

"Whilst we don't see the draw changing, the planning we have undertaken provides us with agility to shift between certain states if required. This version of the draw displays our current venue plan.

"We will continue to work with the Federal and State governments to ensure the health and safety of our players, coaches and other stakeholders and have detailed and practical protocols in place for all parties involved in training and match days.

"I am excited to see us kick off the restart and ultimately finish off what we started last October, with our priority always being to be in a position to crown our Hyundai A-League premiers and champions for this season."

Defending champions Sydney FC top the table by eight points through 20 matches, though second-placed Melbourne City have played three games less.

The 2019-20 A-League season is set to resume with a derby between Melbourne Victory and Western United on July 16.

Australia's premier football competition was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with just 27 matches and the finals remaining.

On Monday, it was announced that the A-League campaign had been extended until the end of August following talks between Football Federation Australia (FFA), the clubs and players.

The FFA has now confirmed it has several draw options ready, though the clash between Victory and Western United at AAMI Park in Melbourne will kick-off the resumption of the season.

The only other fixture revealed is defending champions Sydney FC's match against third-placed Wellington Phoenix at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, with the remaining regular-season games to be played over a 28-day period before the finals.

"We have developed multiple draw options for the completion of the regular season," FFA's head of leagues Greg O'Rourke said on Tuesday.

"All options commence with Victory taking on Western United at AAMI Park followed by a game between the table topping Sydney FC against third-placed Wellington Phoenix at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium the following day.

"The reason for having multiple draw options – which our clubs are across – is due to the fact that over the next few weeks there may be additional relaxations in border restrictions and travel movements in Australia, which may enable our clubs from Victoria, Queensland and South Australia to remain and play in their home cities, rather than relocating to New South Wales to complete the season. 

"Regardless of which option we ultimately take, Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory FC understand that they will complete the remainder of their regular season matches in New South Wales, with games to be played at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Kogarah, and McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle. 

"We are confident that we will be able to release the revised draw for the completion of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season soon."

Sydney top the table through 20 games, 21 points ahead of sixth-placed Western United, while Victory are second from bottom.

Melbourne Victory have appointed former star Grant Brebner as their interim head coach for the rest of the A-League season.

A two-time championship winner as a player at the club, Brebner will oversee Victory's last five games of the campaign, which is suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, after Carlos Salvachua left to return to Europe last month.

Victory's women's team and academy head coach Jeff Hopkins will serve as the former Scottish midfielder's assistant.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the club with numerous, unexpected hurdles, but our people continue to respond to the challenge," Victory chief executive Trent Jacobs said in a statement.

"Grant Brebner and Jeff Hopkins are excited about the opportunity to oversee the A-League program for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

"Grant and Jeff know our players well, and we want the transition to be as seamless as possible. Their priority will be to get the team to the fitness level required to perform, once the season resumes in mid-July.

"With respect to the search for our next A-League head coach, the recruitment process is progressing and remains on track. We will provide a further update in due course.

"It is not our intention for the successful candidate to be involved in the conclusion of the 2019-20 season, therefore they will be officially taking over in preparation for the commencement of the 2020-21 pre-season."

A former Manchester United youth member, Brebner spent several seasons with Victory as a player.

The 42-year-old hopes Victory, who are 10th in the table, can produce a good finish to the campaign.

"It's obviously been a challenging few months, so it's great to get back to work and start preparing to play football again," Brebner said.

"This season hasn't unfolded as planned, but over the coming months the focus for the team will be to enjoy what we do and play tough attacking football, which is what our members and fans expect.

"This was the philosophy drummed into me as a Victory player, and I really want our players to play with freedom and embrace the brand of football our club has been known for over the past 15 years.

"We have a great opportunity over the coming months to build some strong foundations which the next head coach can then build on next season."

Star forward Ola Toivonen has left A-League club Melbourne Victory to return to Europe.

Toivonen, 33, starred during almost two seasons with Victory after arriving in Australia in 2018 and the Swede is reportedly set to return to Malmo.

The veteran's departure from Victory was confirmed on Thursday, with the A-League season still unfinished due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I've really enjoyed my time at Melbourne Victory," Toivonen said in a statement.

"Given everything that is happening in the world and in the league at the moment, we believe now is the right time for us to move back to Europe.

"Melbourne is a fantastic city and Victory is a very professional and well-run club. While we didn't achieve the success we had all hoped for over the past two years, it was a privilege to captain the club this season.

"I want to thank the members and fans who create a special atmosphere to play in front of, both at home and away games, and I have really enjoyed scoring goals and celebrating with you after our wins.

"Finally, I want to thank my team-mates and everyone that works at the club, all the football staff, the administration staff and the board. I hope the club is back challenging for titles next season."

Toivonen scored 29 goals in 49 games for Victory, including 25 in 40 appearances in the A-League.

Victory football operations manager Paul Trimboli paid tribute to Toivonen.

"On behalf of everyone at Melbourne Victory we would like to wish Ola and his family all the best for their move home to Europe," he said.

"We understand Ola's decision to return home and we thank him for his service and professionalism over the past two seasons at Victory.

"Ola is a world-class striker, and he's not only kept our members and fans entertained through his skill and finishing but it's also been great for our young players to watch and learn from a player of his calibre."

Toivonen played for Malmo between 2007 and 2009 before joining PSV, while spells at Rennes, Sunderland and Toulouse followed prior to his move to Australia.

The A-League season was suspended in March with Victory 10th in the table, and reports say it could be finished in August.

Melbourne Victory are on the hunt for their third head coach of the 2019-20 season after replacement boss Carlos Salvachua decided to return to Europe.

Salvachua stepped up from his role as assistant coach in January following Marco Kurz's sacking through just 13 matches in charge.

Victory were second from bottom in the A-League after 21 matches when the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, while Salvachua had secured the club's place in the AFC Champions League group phase.

But the 47-year-old Spaniard will not return to Melbourne as the A-League prepares to restart in July, opting to continue his coaching career in Europe and to be closer to his extended family in Spain.

"On behalf of everyone at Melbourne Victory we would like to thank Carlos for his professionalism, hard work and commitment to our club over the past two seasons," Victory chief executive Trent Jacobs said in a statement on Saturday, with the club already in the process of searching for a new permanent coach.

"Given the current environment around the world and the fact we are working through a process to appoint our next A-League head coach, we understand and accept Carlos' decision to return to Europe.

"Carlos arrived as Kevin Muscat's assistant ahead of the 2018-19 season, before stepping up as head coach during the 2019/20 season. Carlos' short tenure as head coach included securing our club's first away win in the AFC Champions League, ultimately seeing us qualifying for the 2020 group stage. We wish Carlos and his family a safe return to Europe and we wish him all the best for the next chapter in his coaching career."

Salvachua, who joined Victory as an assistant in 2018-19, added: "I would like to thank Melbourne Victory for the way they have looked after myself and my family since we arrived in Australia.

"It has been a pleasure to help coach the club over the past two seasons. The decision to return to Europe is an opportunity to continue my coaching career, and the other major upside which is to be closer to our extended family in Spain. 

"I want to personally thank the Victory board, players, football and administration staff for all their hard work and support and thank you to the members and fans for supporting the team. I wish everyone at Victory all the best for future. Continue to look after each other and stand by the club. Adios and thank you Melbourne."

The career of a so-called 'wonderkid' in football sounds straightforward – you get spotted early on by a big club, your precocious skills see you establish yourself in the first team and then go on to enjoy an illustrious career at the top.

But we all know that, in reality, it doesn't quite work like that. Each situation is nuanced and, for every Kylian Mbappe there is a Kaz Patafta.

Australia's captain during the Under-17 World Cup in 2005, Patafta will be the first to say expectations were high for him after landing a three-year contract with Benfica as a teenager.

And, for what it's worth, his potential was even given 'video game approval', Championship Manager 2007 ranking him similarly to Gareth Bale after he'd trained with Guus Hiddink's pre-2006 World Cup squad.

But Patafta's career in professional football ended at age 22 having never played a top-flight European match in a rueful case of what might have been.

Sydney FC were never going to be stopped in the race for the A-League Premiers' Plate, but one club joined them in red-hot form late in the regular season.

The campaign was suspended last month due to the coronavirus pandemic with the Sky Blues on track to win a record fourth premiership.

Steve Corica's men were eight points clear and had three games in hand when the season was stopped.

Using Opta data, we predict the rest of the A-League regular season and while Sydney FC were unstoppable, one other club hit fine form.

 

SYDNEY MATCH POINTS RECORD

The Sky Blues' dominance continued late in the regular season.

Sydney went on to win each of their final six games and 21 of 26 to end up 17 points clear atop the table.

Only one team matched such a run late in the season – and they went on to finish second, a position that was held by Melbourne City when the campaign was suspended.

Sydney also matched their record points haul from 2016-17 with 66 points, despite playing one fewer game.

GLORIOUS PERTH PURR

Perth Glory, third when the season was stopped, also grabbed six wins from six to charge into second place.

With four of their last six at home and their two trips being to Western Sydney Wanderers and Adelaide United, Perth found form to secure a home Semi-Final.

Sydney and Perth also finished as the top two last season before going on to meet in the Grand Final.

 

FOWLER'S ROAR, WESTERN UNITED IN FINALS AS VICTORY LEAVE RUN LATE

Under Robbie Fowler, Brisbane Roar managed just three points from their final four games, but even that was enough to finish fifth.

Meanwhile, in their maiden A-League season, Western United clinched the last finals spot, finishing four points clear in sixth.

Struggling in 10th when the campaign was stopped, Melbourne Victory charged but fell short.

They grabbed 12 points from their last five games but it was only enough to finish seventh, missing the finals for the first time since 2011-12.

 

A-League table at end of regular season
1. Sydney FC – 66
2. Perth Glory – 49
3. Melbourne City – 43
4. Wellington Phoenix – 42
5. Brisbane Roar – 38
6. Western United – 36

7. Melbourne Victory – 32
8. Western Sydney Wanderers – 32
9. Newcastle Jets – 30
10. Adelaide United – 27
11. Central Coast Mariners – 13

The Australian government's response to coronavirus has placed Melbourne Victory's players "in a compromising position", according to the country's players' union.

Victory were beaten 3-0 by Wellington Phoenix in the A-League on Sunday, although attention after the match was focused on the altered travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand.

In a statement, Professional Footballers Australia noted Victory's players and staff would have to undergo a compulsory 14-day self-quarantine period when they return home – a vastly altered situation to when they left Melbourne on Friday.

"While we acknowledge that the response to coronavirus is constantly evolving, the government’s reactionary behaviour and ad-hoc decision-making on travel and sporting events has placed the players in a challenging personal position," PFA chief executive John Didulica said.

"These players will now have to isolate while their livelihoods will be impacted; they will no longer be available to play and train with their team for the next fortnight.

"More clarity and proactive planning – and less see-sawing – from the government could have prevented a situation whereby we have players departing the country under one condition, and then re-entering on another in the space of 48 hours."

Wellington find themselves in a similarly compromised situation, with a period in quarantine set to follow if they travel as planned for games against Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets this week – matches that now appear impossible to stage as scheduled.

"It's a little bit up in the air at the moment. We will travel on Tuesday to Australia and then we'll have to isolate ourselves for the next couple of weeks," Wellington boss Ufuk Talay told reporters.

"I don't know [who we will be playing]. We will be flying into Sydney and going from there. There's a possibility that we might stay there and play the remaining games in Australia and might have to continue to play the finals series in Australia as well.

"We'll prepare and get ourselves ready like we're going to be there forever and prepare like we're going to come back the next day."

Phoenix attacking midfielder Ulises Davila, who opened the scoring during Sunday's win, has decided against returning to his native Mexico to be with his wife and newborn son.

"At this stage Uli has decided not to go home and see the season out," Talay explained. "We're in discussions. It's very tough.

"We had a plan in place but we can't control what is happening around the world at the moment and we'll just have to adapt to what's in front of us.

"He wants to stay, he wants to see the season off and finish the best way possible. It was his decision solely.

"He's just worried that if he goes and he comes back in a few weeks' time and he has to go into quarantine again. He's very comfortable with his wife being in Mexico with the baby because she's got family over there and he's got family over there as well."

Gary Hooper and David Ball were among the goals as Wellington Phoenix beat Melbourne Victory 3-0, while Newcastle Jets prevailed by the same scoreline at Adelaide United.

Third-placed Wellington have now won four games in succession and hit the front inside three minutes when Ulises Davila volleyed in from close range.

Hooper then netted a clever glancing header in the 21st minute before strike partner Ball dispatched an excellent solo strike 10 minutes into the second half – condemning Victory to a sixth defeat in their past nine matches, although both teams' contrasting form looks set to be halted by quarantine measures in Australia and New Zealand related to the coronavirus outbreak.

Victory's solitary win during their slump came at the expense of Adelaide, who lost their fourth game in a row before being booed off for their efforts at Coopers Stadium against Newcastle.

Roy O'Donovan dispatched Dimitrios Petratos' 41st-minute cross and Matthew Millar doubled the advantage with a lofted finish early in the second half.

Steve Ugarkovic emphatically headed home Bobby Burns' cross shortly afterwards to complete the scoring and ensure the Jets made it six games unbeaten in style.

Sydney FC went 13 points clear at the top of the A-League after coming from behind to hammer Melbourne Victory 4-1.

The league leaders fell behind in the fifth minute, Marco Rojas breezing past Alex Wilkinson all too easily before rifling home an early opener.

Yet Milos Ninkovic levelled prior to half-time and Sydney led when Anthony Caceres curled a 64th-minute effort in off the post from the edge of the box.

Two minutes later Le Fondre, the A-League's top scorer this season, chipped over Lawrence Thomas for his 16th goal of the season, with Giancarlo Gallifuoco only diverting the ball into the corner with his desperate intervention on the line.

The hosts ended the game with 10 men when last-man Tim Hoogland was somewhat harshly dismissed for a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge on substitute Trent Buhagiar in the area three minutes from time.

With Le Fondre off the pitch, Kosta Barbarouses stepped up and converted the penalty to make it 4-1 and leave Graham Arnold's side 13 points clear of Melbourne City, who they also have a game in hand on.

Besart Berisha, the A-League's all-time top scorer, added another two to his tally in Western United's 5-1 demolition of Adelaide United.

Riley McGree had cancelled out Berisha's first, but Alessandro Diamanti, Max Burgess and Connor Pain all found the net before the visitors' prolific striker scored his second of the game and 15th of the season.

The win moved Western United above Adelaide into sixth.

Andrew Nabbout's spectacular 91st-minute strike secured a much-needed 2-1 A-League win for Melbourne Victory at home to Adelaide United on Saturday.

Victory peppered the Adelaide goal but looked set to fall short in their bid for a first league win since January 5 as they trailed to Kristian Opseth's fine early finish.

George Blackwood hit the crossbar as the visitors threatened a second approaching the hour-mark, only for Marco Rojas to quickly equalise at the other end, getting ahead of his marker and prodding past Paul Izzo.

The match was still level at the end of normal time, but Nabbout cut inside from the left flank and arrowed a stunning drive high past Izzo from the corner of the area to steal all three points.

Victory moved back ahead of Newcastle Jets, who had temporarily leapfrogged the Melbourne side earlier in the day courtesy of head coach Carl Robinson's first win.

The Jets' 2-1 triumph over Perth Glory also featured a magnificent goal, with Nikolai Topor-Stanley finding the top-right corner from 25 yards to open the scoring after 12 minutes.

Neil Kilkenny equalised from the penalty spot after Newcastle captain Nigel Boogaard's handball, yet Roy O'Donovan hit a 74th-minute winner.

Perth remain second in the table but are now winless in three in all competitions.

New Newcastle Jets head coach Carl Robinson was denied a first home win despite a dominant first half against Melbourne Victory on Saturday.

Former Vancouver Whitecaps boss Robinson was appointed prior to a home success against Central Coast Mariners earlier this month but watched that match from the stands.

The Jets subsequently drew 1-1 at Western Sydney Wanderers and were then held by the same scoreline by the Victory.

Newcastle twice had early Abdiel Arroyo goals ruled out, the first after referee Alireza Faghani inadvertently deflected a cross into the striker's path.

But Melbourne's luck ran out when Roy O'Donovan blasted Dimitrios Petratos' cutback against the crossbar and, after a short delay, the VAR ruled the ball had bounced over the line.

However, half-time killed the Jets' momentum, and visiting captain Ola Toivonen headed an equaliser four minutes after the restart to claim a share of the spoils.

It was also 1-1 between Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory in Saturday's earlier game.

Perth climbed to second with a point but were denied all three by former Newcastle United defender Macaulay Gillesphey, who cancelled out Bruno Fornaroli's first-half opener five minutes from time.

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