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Victory refuse to give up Sydney FC chase

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/02/2017 Emma Kemp

Melbourne Victory have pledged to continue their pursuit of A-League leaders Sydney FC and press for an unlikely Premiers' Plate.

Victory have cut the gap between themselves and the top from 11 points to nine, courtesy of Saturday's dramatic drought-breaking Melbourne derby win.

Kevin Muscat's side are comfortably second and seven points ahead of third-placed Brisbane, who could not snap Sydney's now 18-game undefeated run but held the title favourites to a stalemate.

With nine rounds remaining and 27 points still up for grabs, the heat is on Victory to make their move now.

Three consecutive losses prior to Saturday have rendered a first-place finish improbable.

But while it remains a mathematical possibility, maximum points from the next trio of games will be vital in the lead-up to a final Big Blue stand-off with the Sky Blues.

Victory next play three of the bottom-four teams in Newcastle (away), Central Coast (away) and Adelaide United (home).

On paper at least, Sydney have it somewhat tougher with Wellington (home), Western Sydney (away) and Melbourne City (away).

Regardless, Victory assistant coach Jean-Paul de Marigny refused to give up on the chase.

"We'll go right to the end," de Marigny said.

"As we've all experienced tonight, the game can change very quickly.

"So we'll continue, and we'll believe in what we're doing ... as we've been for the last 18 weeks."

Perth are knocking on the door of the top four after Spanish star Diego Castro scored a brace to lead a 3-2 defeat of Newcastle.

Rhys Williams' stand-off with the club ended with the wantaway defender making his long-awaited return in the victory, which lifts the Glory within two points of Melbourne City.

"He did well, defensively he was very solid," Lowe said of Williams.

"He's a super player. We've always known that."

Stagnating City are counting the cost of Victory's controversial 2-1 comeback win.

They now face an unprecedented test of depth next Saturday night against the Roar, with up to eight key players set to be sidelined.

Bruno Fornaroli, Fernando Brandan, Luke Brattan, Manny Muscat and Osama Malik will miss the match after racking up five yellow cards.

Tim Cahill is also ruled out following his red card for dissent, while goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis is sure to hear from the A-League match review panel for repeatedly calling Besart Berisha "f***ing gypsy" and Luke Brattan (ankle) is touch and go.

Meanwhile, Western Sydney resuscitated their lacklustre campaign with a Brendon Santalab-inspired 3-1 win over Wellington to edge them into play-off contention.

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