A-League Review: Western Sydney strengthen finals bid as Melbourne City see off Mariners
Western Sydney Wanderers surged into favouritism for the last remaining A-League finals spot after a first-half blitz sparked a 3-0 win over Brisbane Roar on Saturday.
Needing three points to leapfrog Brisbane back into sixth, the hosts were in command inside 15 minutes as Oriol Riera struck his second brace of the campaign.
The Spanish striker nodded Wanderers into an early lead from Alvaro Cejudo's free-kick and soon made it a double, punishing poor marking to poke home at the second attempt after Jamie Young brilliantly saved his initial effort.
Roar, 2-0 winners on their last visit to ANZ Stadium, were again undone in the air when Chris Ikonomidis pressed his claims for an Australia recall with a smart header in the 40th minute.
John Aloisi's side had a consolation goal chalked off by VAR after the interval, but the damage was already done as Western Sydney took control of their own fate ahead of next weekend's final regular season home match against an in-form Adelaide United.
Brisbane, meanwhile, face a tough trip to eighth-placed Perth Glory, where they must better Wanderers' result if they are to reach the finals for a ninth straight campaign.
A stunning save but Oriol Riera has Western Sydney in cruise control against the Roar.-- Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) April 7, 2018
: Catch the second half LIVE on Fox Sports 501 pic.twitter.com/XvttpiK46H
Melbourne City are on course to finish a club-best third following a hard-fought 1-0 win over lowly Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park.
Bruno Fornaroli scored the decisive goal in the 49th minute, picking out the bottom left corner with a clinical half-volley from the edge of the area.
Goalkeeper Ben Kennedy kept the managerless Mariners in the contest with a string of handy saves, but the struggling visitors lacked the cutting edge to avoid a fifth successive loss.
A point away to bottom-placed Wellington Phoenix next Saturday could now be enough for City to seal third, which would mean they host the team that finishes sixth in the first week of finals.