Mariners clinch Aussie Premiership
Central Coast Mariners claimed Australia's A-League Premiership as the top team on the standings after a dramatic final day to the regular season.
The Mariners, 2-0 winners over New Zealand's Wellington Phoenix on Saturday, held on to top spot after Sydney FC and Queensland Roar both failed to win their final games on Sunday.
Sydney FC drew 2-2 with defending champions Melbourne Victory before a season-best 33,458 crowd at Sydney Football Stadium while Queensland Roar were shock 2-0 away losers to Adelaide United.
Four clubs began the weekend's final round tied on 31 points, but only Central Coast and Newcastle claimed maximum points. The Mariners won the league title and a berth in the 2009 AFC Champions League through a superior goal difference.
Socceroo striker John Aloisi's seventh goal of the season and a late strike from Adam Kwasnik clinched Central Coast the Premiership in the win over bottom team Wellington.
Newcastle Jets, who beat Perth Glory 2-1 through goals from A-League leading scorer Joel Griffiths and Mark Bridge at home on Friday, finished second and take the other Champions League place, with Sydney third and the Roar fourth.
Melbourne Victory spoiled Sydney FC's chance of finishing top in a draw. Steve Corica gave Sydney the lead after just three minutes before a Mark Milligan own goal evened the ledger 26 seconds into the second half. Alex Brosque regained the lead for Sydney with a well-crafted turn and strike in the 61st minute, and Danny Allsopp scored the equaliser in the 76th minute.
Adelaide United upset Queensland Roar 2-0 with first half goals from Bruce Djite and Lucas Pantelis. Roar midfielder Danny Tiatto was sent off after the former Manchester City stalwart appeared to strike Adelaide United captain Travis Dodd off the ball.
Sydney and Queensland will face off in a two-legged elimination semi-final, with Central Coast and Newcastle playing in other semi-final starting next weekend. Under competition rules, the winner of the major semi-final earns the right to host the A-League grand final.