Australian A-League champions Newcastle Jets continued their struggling title defence Monday with a 2-2 draw at home to lowly Wellington Phoenix.
The Jets squandered an opportunity to close the gap on the competition's leading four teams, conceding two penalties as Wellington escaped with a draw. Newcastle had appeared set for only their second win of the season before Phoenix's Chinese import Gao Leilei fell in a challenge in the final minute.
Former AFC Wimbledon striker Shane Smeltz converted the spot kick to go with his 52nd-minute penalty to give Phoenix a share of the points. The Jets have just the Phoenix and Perth Glory below them in the standings after seven matches.
Melbourne Victory moved two points clear at the top after a 4-0 hammering of woeful Perth. Two goals for Danny Allsopp and others for midfielder Grant Brebner and defender Rodrigo Vargas ensured the Victory's win and pushed them two points clear of Sydney FC, who drew 1-1 with Queensland Roar on Saturday.
Sydney FC midfielder Stuart Musialik pinched the draw at the death against Queensland, netting deep in injury time after his side had trailed to Scottish midfielder Charlie Miller's fifth goal of the season for the Roar. The greatest escape of the weekend came from Central Coast Mariners, who fought back from three goals down to draw 3-3 with Adelaide United in Adelaide.
First-half goals for captain Travis Dodd and defender Robert Cornthwaite and a 50th minute strike from Brazilian Cristiano had Adelaide cruising towards victory. However, after Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna made some changes, Mile Jedinak hit a double including a penalty, and Matt Simon struck an 84th-minute equaliser.
Adelaide coach Aurelio Vidmar now must get his players to regroup for their AFC Champions League semi-final first leg against Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor at home on Wednesday.