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If the A-League is boring, maybe it’s time to take up chess.
After an uninspiring Round 1 sent critics into a spin, Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar proved there’s life in the new league yet by producing one of the greatest games in the competition’s brief history.
It wasn’t just that Melbourne clawed back a 3-1 half-time deficit that will have the nay-sayers choking on their Weet-Bix.
Instead it was the quality of goals – so often maligned in the A-League – that suggests there’s enough quality lurking under the surface to sway even the most hardened of cynics.
In a land where English football provides stiff competition to the local product, perhaps it was fitting that former English Premier League midfielder Danny Tiatto was the first to fire a broadside with an early candidate for goal-of-the-season.
More renowned for his leg-breaking challenges than any kind of goalscoring touch, Tiatto let fly with the sort of 25-yard piledriver that usually results in both teams shutting up shop, safe in the knowledge that no better goal will be scored.
Instead it was a precursor of things to come – although Tiatto’s bald döppelgänger Sergio van Dijk was forced to convert the obligatory penalty to send Brisbane two goals in front.
Enter one Carlos Hernandez. The Costa Rican international arrived in the A-League palpably overweight, sparking a trend that has been lovingly adopted by every big-name foreign signing since.
From the blimp-like Mario Jardel to North Queensland heavyweight Robbie Fowler, stepping off the plane as though they’ve just consumed every lamington ever baked has become somewhat of the norm for the A-League’s foreign legion.
But no matter how many jam scones he’s scoffed prior to kick-off, few prove as effective as Melbourne’s mercurial playmaker.
Doing away with his usual fancy foot-work, Hernandez hauled Victory back into the match with a thunderous strike that hit the back of the net like an Exocet missile.
Just when Melbourne’s army of fans began to find their voice, Brisbane’s recent acquisition Henrique then added his personal contribution to the list of stunning goals.
The diminutive Brazilian lived up to his nickname “Slippery Fish” by twisting and turning past a baffled Victory defence and curling a superb right-foot strike into the far corner.
3-1 to Brisbane at half-time, and Melbourne done and dusted. Or were they?
Danny Allsopp doesn’t have a colourful nickname – or at least any that The dirt from Down Under is aware of – but if he did, it’d be something like “The Hungry Yak.”
A ubiquitous presence in the goal mouth, the bullocking front-man is more accustomed to banging them in with his shin than he is to making the highlights reel.
Everyone expected Allsopp to get his head to a stock-standard Hernandez cross just after the hour mark.
But when the ball looped high into the air, the former English lower-league journeyman turned and smashed a textbook volley into the far corner of the goal!
Maybe it was the stinging criticism dished out after Melbourne’s opening night defeat to Central Coast Mariners a week earlier, but in a game that appeared to be following a blockbuster script, you just knew that Victory would haul themselves level.
It was Carlos Hernandez who did his best Cesc Fabregas impersonation when Melbourne were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box.
A cross appeared the more likely option, but Hernandez had clearly tired of the niceties and simply curled his direct free-kick straight into the far corner.
3-3! Goals galore! Five of the best strikes seen in recent A-League history.
But will it be enough to silence the critics?
With poor attendances and a wildly lop-sided Queensland derby threatening to knock this Etihad Stadium classic out of the headlines – probably not.
But with 17 goals scored in each of the first two rounds of A-League action, Australia’s premier club competition can no longer be accused of being boring.
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same old aussies, always exaggerating, that equaliser did not end up in the top corner at all. It was barely 3 foot off the floor when it flew in.
It makes me laugh that every other name mentioned in these blogs is a former English League player...Danny Tiatto, Fowler, Alsopp, Jardel... Is there a reason for this? Tiatto is obvious as he is a native, same with Kevin Muscat but what about the others? How do they find themselves in Oz? Is it the country more than the football that attracts them?
I see you've removed your comment saying Jardel never played in England Mike? Prob for the best, really only would have taken a wikipedia search to see he was at Bolton.....
Other than that, nice column. Good to hear about the A-League, a relative unknown in the football world.
louis - you're right! How could I forget his seven-game spell at the Reebok?
Sadly it was still more impressive than his stint in the A-League.
The article doesn't say the ball went in the top corner - it says far corner - yet you're making the claim that it's another case of aussies exaggerating!
The goals in this game were top class. Maybe not all five, but certainly Tiatto's and the two scored by Hernandez. Credit where credit is due.
How are the Scots getting on...Charlie Miller et al?
Miller had a hernia operation last season and has come off the bench for the first two games of the new campaign. Bob Malcom has started in both.
Chris Doig looks a particularly shrewd acquisition for Central Coast Mariners.
Just remembered that Tiatto scored an absolute blinder for Man City waaaay back. Still can't believe he did it.
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