Ten of the greatest upsets in A-League history

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Everyone loves an underdog and the first fifteen seasons of the A-League have sprung up their fair share of surprises.

Already this campaign, the likes of Western United and Central Coast Mariners have taken home unexpected scalps against their highly fancied opposition.

Taking a trip down memory lane, here are ten of the greatest boilovers in A-League history.

10. Perth Glory 1-2 Central Coast Mariners – November 2019

Ahead of round three in 2019/20 many foresaw only one outcome as last season’s wooden spooners visited the reigning premiers.

However, Alen Stajcic’s men delivered an impressive performance, with a hometown goal from Daniel De Silva and a stunning first A-League strike for promising youngster Sam Silvera, earning the Mariners all three points.

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9. Wellington Phoenix 6-0 Gold Coast United – October 2009

The now defunct Gold Coast United suffered the heaviest defeat in their short history across the ditch against a rampant Wellington Phoenix outfit.

The match saw all previous form flung out of the window as United entered the fixture in third spot, whilst Wellington had drawn their previous six games.

Remarkably, five of the Nix’s six unanswered goals were scored in the second half.

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8. Sydney FC 2-0 Brisbane Roar – December 2011

The historic 36-match unbeaten run of Ange Postecoglou’s Brisbane Roar came to an end at the hands of Sydney FC on a cold windy afternoon at Kogarah.

Ironically it was future Roar man Dimi Petratos who opened the scoring just 36 seconds in before the hosts doubled their lead as Brett Emerton struck directly from a corner.

Despite their streak coming to an end, Brisbane went on to win the championship thanks to the infamous late Besart Berisha penalty which broke Perth Glory’s hearts.

Sydney FC, on the other hand, were eliminated in the first round of the finals by the Wellington Phoenix.

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7. Gold Coast United 1-2 North Queensland Fury – December 2010

In an exciting encounter between two now-dissolved clubs, the 2010/11 cellar-dwellers North Queensland Fury sprung a surprise against their Queensland rivals Gold Coast United.

Brazilian midfielder Robson opened the scoring for United ten minutes in but his strike was cancelled out by goals to David Williams and now-Nix manager Ufuk Talay.

A solid Gold Coast side, boasting the likes of Adama Traore, Josh Brilliante, Ben Halloran and Bruce Djite, went on to experience the most successful season in their history as they fell one step short of the grand final.

North Queensland’s fortunes could not have been any more different: they concluded their second and final campaign with an eleven match winless run.

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6. Western Sydney Wanderers 2-5 Wellington Phoenix – February 2016

The Western Sydney Wanderers missed an opportunity to go top of the A-League as they were trumped by a rampant Nix outfit on Valentine’s Day in 2016.

Former Sydney FC striker Blake Powell registered four goals for the visitors in a shock result that saw the Wanderers concede five for the first time in their history.

The match was a high point for Wellington who finished the season in 9th.

On the other hand, it was a cruel blow for Wanderers who finished in 2nd spot, just one point shy of premiers Adelaide United.

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5. Gold Coast United 1-0 Brisbane Roar – December 2011

A rare highlight of Gold Coast United’s torrid final campaign was their victory over Brisbane Roar – a side who would go on to win back-to-back championships.

The sides were split by a dramatic 88th-minute penalty which was converted by Daniel Severino.

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 4. Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 Sydney FC – February 2017

Round 20 of the 2016/17 season saw Graham Arnold’s Sydney dream of navigating an entire season without defeat crushed by their fiercest rivals.

Over 44,000 fans at ANZ Stadium watched on as the Wanderers gallantly held onto a lead established by former Sky Blue Brendon Santalab in the 26th minute.

The triumph granted Wanderers bragging rights as the only blip in Sydney’s record-breaking campaign where they captured the premiership and championship double.

Western Sydney themselves went on to finish an underwhelming season in 7th spot; an eye-catching 30 points shy of their arch-rivals.

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3. Sydney FC 0-1 New Zealand Knights – January 2007

The inaugural A-League champions Sydney FC’s title defence was inflicted a hefty blow as they were sunk by last-placed New Zealand Knights at Aussie Stadium.

The result was labelled at the time by The Sydney Morning Herald as “the biggest upset in A-League history”.

A first half volley from Knights’ skipper Che Bunce saw the visitors (who entered the match $11.50 outsiders) gain a surprise advantage.

Sydney then struck the woodwork twice and goalkeeper Mark Paston denied them time and time again to ensure it was the Knights who returned home with an unlikely three points.

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The result played a major role in the Sky Blues missing out on the all-important top two, and their misery was later compounded by a three-point penalty for a salary cap breach.

It was to be the third-last game in the Knights’ history as they finished bottom and were replaced by Wellington Phoenix the following season.

2. Melbourne Victory 0-1 Newcastle Jets – April 2015

In an outstanding boilover considering how late in the season it occurred, wooden spooners Newcastle Jets travelled to AAMI Park and toppled the premiers elect Melbourne Victory in round 25 of the 2014/15 season.

The decisive moment arrived 54 minutes in as Columbian striker Edson Montano capitalised on some uncharacteristically poor Victory defending to score the only goal of the contest.

The Jets defended heroically to deny Kevin Muscat’s side from scoring for the first time in 13 matches.

The result was ultimately inconsequential for both sides fortunes, as the Victory finished top by three points and the Jets slumped to last place, one point behind the Western Sydney Wanderers.

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Sydney FC 2-3 Melbourne Victory – April 2018 

“O’Neill giving chase forlornly…”

You know the rest.

Number one of this countdown goes to the only time in A-League history the premiers have failed to qualify for the grand final.

Twenty-three points separated the Sky Blues and Victory after 27 rounds, however, when they met in the semi-finals it was the fourth-placed side who prevailed in the most dramatic of circumstances.

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After sending the match to extra time with a 95th-minute own goal, former Sydney fan favourite Terry Antonis turned from villain to hero for Victory by striving forward and converting a superb individual goal.

Sydney were denied a historic one-season treble as the Victory went on to capture their fourth championship with a 1-0 grand final win over the Newcastle Jets.

Feature image credit: Central Coast Mariners

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