Comebacks, upsets and records
The leaders in Australia set a personal best as a team from New Zealand equalled their league’s highest-ever victory. With further surprising results in Iran and the United Arab Emirates, an incredible fightback in India and the top two marching on in Qatar, FIFA.com reviews the latest domestic developments in Asia and Oceania.
Australia’s A-League: Mariners set sail for horizon
Central Coast Mariners’ quest to go one step further than last season and claim their maiden crown continues unabated as they stretched their lead to 11 points. The Mariners also advanced their undefeated streak to a club record 15 matches with their thrilling 3-2 comeback victory over Adelaide United. It was unheralded midfielder Josh Rose who bagged the late winner against the rejuvenated visitors. Brisbane Roar again dropped points, this time the champions forced to settle for a 1-1 draw away to Melbourne Heart.
Big game: Following a home draw on his debut as Melbourne Victory coach, Jim Magilton suffered defeat in his second game in charge. The Victory conceded three times in the opening half for a 4-1 loss at Perth Glory, with prolific New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz hitting a double.
Headline-grabber: Wellington Phoenix's rare form continued, with the New Zealanders registering consecutive away wins for the first time thanks to a 1-0 success at Newcastle Jets. Malta defender Manny Muscat was the hero with his first goal after four seasons at the club.
India’s I-League: Decisive derby, leaders continue charge
Dempo maintained their three-point lead, but they needed a minor miracle from goal machine Randy Martins to do so. Down 1-0 at struggling Shillong Lajong, the Nigerian sensationally struck twice in the final two minutes to earn his side a last-gasp reprieve. Second-placed East Bengal cruised past Hindustan Aeronautics 2-0 to maintain the pressure on the frontrunners.
Big game: The major talking point of the round was the Goa derby, with Salgaocar posting a 3-0 victory over third-placed Churchill Brothers. After a shaky start to their title defence, Salgaocar have now claimed 19 points from a possible 21 to move into fourth.
Headline-grabber: Prayag United’s Deepak Mondal turned in a man-of-the-match performance to help his side to a famous win over Mohun Bagan in Kolkata’s cavernous Salt Lake Stadium. The one-time Indian player of the year rifled home an impressive winner in the latter stages to help his side leapfrog their rivals into fifth.
Iran leaders Esteghlal suffered a second successive defeat, this time against relegation haunted Fajr-Sepasi. Esteghlal, perhaps with their minds on the looming Hafzi Cup final, had their lead cut to just one point thanks to Mehdi Rajabzadeh’s brace. Teraktor-Sazi are second after a 3-1 win over Damash, while Sepahan and Saba Battery are a further two points adrift. Tehran elite Persepolis continued their mini revival with national team icon Ali Karimi scoring a late winner in a 2-1 defeat of Mes Sarcheshmeh which lifted them to seventh.
United Arab Emirates champions Al Jazira missed the chance to close the gap on leaders Al Ain in an abbreviated round of action, after slipping to a 2-1 defeat against Al Ahli. Chile international Luis Jimenez had a mixed day for Ahli, finding the net only to be sent off against Franky Vercauteren's side in the second half. Elsewhere Modibi Diarra scored a hat-trick in Emirates' 4-2 victory at Dubai, while Ajman triumphed 2-1 at Bani Yas.
The status quo was maintained in Qatar, where Asian champions Al Sadd and domestic kings Lekhwiya maintained their grip on first and second respectively. 2011 FIFA Club World Cup participants Al Sadd have a one-point lead after comfortably disposing of Umm Salal 4-1, while Lekhwiya had a more difficult task in overcoming Al Ahli 1-0 on Thursday, with Nam Tae-Hee’s strike just past the hour proving crucial. Al Arabi recorded just their third win of the campaign with 1-0 triumph at Al Wakra as they seek to build momentum for their upcoming AFC Champions League debut.
It was an atypical weekend in New Zealand as heavyweights Auckland City and Waitakere United both failed to win. Hawke’s Bay United pulled off a stunning 2-1 reverse of Waitakere, while Auckland increased their lead at the top to four points despite a goalless draw at home to Waikato. But it was Canterbury United’s 9-1 demolition of Manawatu that most caught the eye. The Christchurch-based club equalled the competition’s highest-ever scoreline, aided by Russell Kamo's second-half hat-trick. Canterbury, Waitakere and Team Wellington are all tied in second with six rounds to play.