Mon, May 7, 8:10pm by Staff Writer
The 2017-18 A-League season came to an end on Saturday night, with Melbourne Victory winning a record fourth title in Newcastle with a 1-0 win against the Jets.
A capacity crowd packed McDonald Jones Stadium in the Hunter, with the Jets narrow favourites to win their second A-League title.
Victory had the better of the opening exchanges and scored a controversial goal through Kosta Barbarouses in the ninth minute.
Replays would later show that the goal was offside, but the video assisted referee (VAR) was not consulted.
Football Federation Australia released a statement on Sunday morning remarking that the system suffered a technical glitch, which prohibited the system from being used to review the goal.
Justified outrage has rippled through the football community, with many calling for the technology to be shelved until it is foolproof and officials and fans alike can have total trust in its accuracy.
After conceding, the Jets were clearly on the attack and had the better of the remainder of the first half.
They had two golden opportunities to equalise in the first half but failed to do so. Victory goal keeper Lawrence Thomas was spectacular as he kept his side in the lead, with a number of crucial saves.
After half time it was Victory who were the dominant side, peppering the goals and they could have doubled their advantage early in the second stanza.
The match then took a heated turn as both sides were flying in to tackles, the Jets in particular.
Jets coach Ernie Merrick accused Melbourne Victory of poor gamesmanship after they looked to repeatedly foul and slow the play of the game down, lessening the spectacle.
A stoppage time red card to Roy O’Donovan further soured the night for Newcastle, with the Irishman getting his challenge all-wrong on goal keeper Lawrence Thomas.
O’Donovan flew in the air for a high ball and his studs collided with the Victory man’s face, in an ugly and poorly timed effort.
Newcastle enjoyed 58 per cent possession and double the number of shots to Victory in the game, but failed to score a much-needed equaliser.
The numerous away fans that travelled for the match were in raptures at the full-time whistle, as Victory held on for their 1-0 win.
Melbourne Victory were never longer than $8.50 to win the A-League title this season, despite a poor run of form in late 2017 and early 2018.
Their finals credentials were what was keeping their price in the outright market competitive and they certainly had motivation to win the league after their narrow and shattering disappointment last season.
Newcastle overachieved in the 2017-18 season and surprised many with their expansive play and will certainly be a team to watch next season.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia begins in June with Germany and Brazil $5.50 favourites to win the crown, with Spain not far behind at $6.50.
France will be looking to win its first World Cup since 1998 and are priced at $7 to do so, while Argentina, captained by the mercurial Lionel Messi have not won the World Cup since 1986 and are $10 to take out the crown in Russia.
Japan are the best priced of the Asian teams at a long $251 shot to win the World Cup, with Australia even longer at $301 at Sportsbet.
Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk named his 32-man preliminary squad for the World Cup on Monday morning, with a number of familiar names, including current Millwall striker and Socceroos great Tim Cahill.
Josh Risdon, Josh Brillante, Dimitri Petratos, James Troisi and Daniel Arzani are five players from the A-League who have been picked by van Marwijk.
The Socceroos are in Group C along with France, Peru and Denmark, with their first match against Les Bleus on June 16 at Kazan Arena in Kazan.
2018 FIFA World Cup Odds – Sportsbet
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