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They’re not quite Ronaldo, Kaka, Alonso & Co. But the schadenfreude flowed freely when the galacticos of Gold Coast United crashed to a first-ever defeat.
Those proclaiming the Gold Coast to be Australia’s ‘glitter strip’ clearly hold tacky souvenir stands and overpriced fusion cookery in higher esteem than most.
And there was nothing sparkling about United’s football in their recent 1-0 loss to the Newcastle Jets.
Billionaire benefactor Clive Palmer set tongues wagging in pre-season by declaring that United could go through the entire season undefeated. They lasted until Round 4.
Hailing from a coastal town synonymous with industry, perhaps it was fitting that Newcastle's industrious performance was enough to outshine the A-League’s glamour club.
A neat finish from 20-year-old striker Sean Rooney did the damage for Branko and the Jets – with coach Branko Culina getting the better of son and star Gold Coast recruit Jason.
Jason Culina wasn’t the only big name to lob up on the Gold Coast, with United also signing goalkeeper Jess Vanstratten from Verona, imposing Dutch defender Bas van den Brink and no fewer than four Brazilian imports.
That’s to say nothing of strikers Shane Smeltz and Joel Porter.
Their spending spree left many wondering just how they’d managed to assemble such an impressive squad under the restraints of the league-wide salary cap.
At any rate, it was a patient counter-attacking performance from Newcastle that proved that money can’t buy love – or even three points – with Gold Coast’s defeat setting up a blockbuster clash with league leaders Sydney FC next time out.
Elsewhere there was a decidely English flavour at Hindmarsh Stadium, as Robbie Fowler notched his first goal from open play in North Queensland’s pulsating 3-3 draw away at Adelaide United.
Maybe it was the driving rain that had Fowler in the mood, as he confidently volleyed home to open the scoring.
Adelaide soon levelled through stand-in skipper Lucas Pantelis, before it was the turn of the English-born ex-Ghana international Lloyd Owusu to steal the spotlight.
His first goal for Adelaide United might have come from the most humdrum of finishes, but in a league where uninspired goal celebrations are the norm, Owusu’s was first class.
Momentarily possessed by what appeared to be the spirit of Wacko Jacko himself, the former Brentford cult hero embarked on a crazed, robot-style dance routine which appears to be called ‘krumping’ on So You Think You Can Dance (as watched by, er, Mrs Dirt from Down Under).
Whatever, Owusu whipped the Adelaide fans into a frenzy with the kind of moves you’d expect from someone who’d just dropped a toaster in the bath.
Sadly, it wasn’t enough to propel Adelaide to victory, with the Reds needing a stoppage-time penalty from Pantelis to claim a share of the spoils in the entertaining 3-3 stalemate.
Perth Glory’s new Serbian striker Branko Jelic preferred the old-fashioned “leap over the advertising boards and head first into the fans” display when he scored the winner in the 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory, while Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC also recorded victories.
However, Round 4 in the A-League was all about the defeat of Gold Coast United.
Enigmatic coach Miron Bleiberg was gracious in defeat, and he knows that his squad is strong enough to challenge for the title this season.
But with the brash-talking upstarts ruffling the feathers of the A-League’s established elite, you can be sure there were glasses raised up and down the country in a toast to the Newcastle Jets.
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