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City hands A-League control to Brisbane

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/04/2016 Vince Rugari

Melbourne City hasn't given up hope of winning the A-League Premiers Plate despite a capitulation in the west that has handed the inside running to Brisbane Roar.

After weeks of ladder jostling with no real dominant team emerging, the title picture is now as clear as can be heading into a thrilling final round - if the Roar defeat Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Saturday night, they will finish top.

Emerging A-League powerhouse City only have themselves to blame, with their 3-2 defeat to Perth Glory on Sunday meaning they no longer control their own destiny.

"Our first goal was to keep it in our hands, and that's something we gave away," coach John van 't Schip said.

"We all knew that with two wins we would win (the title) ... it's easier said than done.

"For us now, we have to put this aside, analyse it, and look forward to the game on Friday."

That's when City, now fourth on the ladder, host fellow plate contenders Adelaide United at AAMI Park - but even if they win, they'll need other results to go their way to grab their first piece of A-League silverware.

Brisbane required late goals from super-sub Henrique and veteran Thomas Broich to seal a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Newcastle on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium.

The Roar have blown hot and cold this season but coach John Aloisi believes they truly deserve to be where they are.

"At the beginning of the season, if someone asked me you're going to be in a position to play for the premiership plate in the last game, I would have signed off on it," Aloisi said.

"For us to be, with one game to go, to have won 14 games - that's consistency, that shows we're a consistent side and a good side."

It is a remarkable achievement for a club that was in dire straits fewer than 12 months ago, when financial problems crippled their owners, Indonesian conglomerate the Bakrie Group.

But the football gods are now seemingly on their side, as Victory will likely field a depleted side when they meet on Saturday.

Besart Berisha is suspended after his red card in Victory's 4-1 win over Wellington on Saturday, while coach Kevin Muscat is expected to rotate his squad given their trip to face South Korean side Suwon Samsung Bluewings in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday night.

"I'm not sure who (Muscat is) going to rest," Aloisi said.

"(But) it's always easier when one of the leading goalscorers is not playing.

"I wouldn't say easier - I'd say it's good for us Berisha's not playing."

The Wanderers, now third, smashed Central Coast Mariners 4-1 on Friday night and will face the Phoenix away on Sunday afternoon.

The Reds, who beat Sydney FC 2-0 on Saturday, can still finish top even if they draw against City, provided the Roar lose and Western Sydney don't win.

Then there's the resurgent Glory, who will be odds-on to beat the rattled Sky Blues in the final round and could sneak a home final - a finals assignment no team will want to take on.

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