The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Central Coast step up title chase with 3-0 win over Newcastle in A-League
SYDNEY - Central Coast recaptured its championship-winning form with a 3-0 win over Newcastle that lifted it briefly into second place in the A-League.
First-half goals to Daniel McBreen, Matt Simon and Anthony Caceras allowed Central Coast to maintain its dominance of derby contests against their New South Wales state rivals, who haven't won on the Mariners' home ground at Gosford in nine matches since 2008.
The Western Sydney Wanderers, Central Coast's beaten rivals in last year's grand final, moved back into second place with a 3-1 win over Perth in the last match of the 16th round on Sunday.
Brisbane remained clear atop the league table after its 2-1 win over Wellington on Friday.
Adelaide needed a 90th-minute goal from Ryan Griffiths to snatch a 2-2 draw with the last-place Melbourne Heart that kept it inside the top-six playoffs zone.
Italian standout Alessandro Del Piero scored twice as Sydney FC beat the Melbourne Victory 5-0 to vault the Victory into fourth place. Melbourne also lost 5-0 to Wellington in its previous match.
Central Coast posted its sixth win of the season and stretched its unbeaten run to five matches with Saturday's emphatic home win over Newcastle, which was playing its first match under new coach Clayton Zane.
Caceras opened the scoring with a brilliant goal in the 13th minute, breaking from halfway, beating two defenders then driving home a shot from 25 metres.
McBreen scored in the 31st with a curling shot into the top corner, and Simon added the third just before halftime, heading home Mile Sterjovski's corner.
Newcastle tried to feed the ball to former England striker Emile Heskey but the forward blew his best chance when he skied a shot from point-blank rage.
"We raised the bar a bit from last week and that was because of our execution, we took our chances," Central Coast coach Phil Moss said. "I don't remember the last time we scored two goals from outside the box and that's something we addressed this week and it's great to see it come off.
"They were two quality finishes from Caceras and McBreen."
Luke Brattan scored with a powerful 30-meter shot three minutes from time to give Brisbane a 2-1 win over Wellington, sending the Roar seven points clear at the top of the table ahead of Sunday's games.
Belgian striker Stein Huysegems gave Wellington an early lead but teenager Devante Clut equalized for Brisbane with a goal on debut. Brattan's goal gave Brisbane its 11th win in 16 games and ended Wellington's five-match unbeaten streak.
Brisbane coach Mike Mulvey said his team stepped up its effort in the second half after being outplayed in the first.
"We needed to start with a bit more energy because we were guilty of just being a step or two behind the play in the first half," Mulvey said. "We worked our way into the game as the half wore on and I was confident we could really get the momentum back in our favour if we started strongly, and to the guys' credit they responded with some very good football in the opening stages there in the second half."
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