Brisbane beats leader Central Coast in A-League


SYDNEY (AP) -- Erik Paartalu and Besart Berisha scored first-half goals as third-placed Brisbane beat league-leading Central Coast 2-0 to end the Mariners' 15-match unbeaten streak in Australian football's A-League on Saturday.

Second-placed Wellington rallied from a goal down on Friday to beat Adelaide 2-1 for a club record fourth straight win to close the gap on the Mariners to seven points, with Brisbane a further point behind.

Central Coast's loss was its first since a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle in the third round and its first at home in more than a year.

The Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory drew 0-0 in a tough local derby which left the fifth-placed Heart just inside top-six playoffs zone.

On Sunday, Jeremy Brockie scored twice as Newcastle downed Sydney FC 5-2 to move into sixth place and into playoffs contention. Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Ruben Zadkovich also scored for Newcastle in regulation time, while Ali Abbas sealed the win in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

With the loss, Sydney FC fell back into seventh place.

Earlier, Brisbane coach Ange Postecoglou said he doubted his team, the reigning A-League champions, could supplant Central Coast in first place with only seven matches remaining in the regular season.

"There's still a long way to go and the Mariners are still the best team in the comp," Postecoglou said. "I don't expect them to drop the series of games that they'd need to but that's not the important thing for us.

"I've said all along, the important thing going into finals is that you're playing good football regardless of where you finish."

Brisbane took only five minutes to take the lead with a goal to Paartalu. A Thomas Broich throughball found Nick Fitzgerald and the teenage midfielder's cut-back pass took a deflection off Central Coast's Alex Wilkinson, allowing Paartalu to finish.

Berisha, the A-League's top scorer, doubled the advantage with his 12th goal of the season in the 38th minute.

Central Coast coach Graham Arnold said his team may have lost some momentum because of a two-week gap since its last match, after its Jan. 27 game against Gold Coast was washed out.

The Melbourne Heart's winless streak stretched to seven matches and the Melbourne Victory's to five as they battled to a scoreless draw. The Victory have had 10 draws this season, including four in five matches under Jim Magilton, who took over as coach last month after the sacking of Mehmet Durakovic.

Magilton's team was reduced to 10 men for the last 15 minutes after Scotsman Grant Brebner was sent off.

"When you go down to 10 men and your back's against the wall, we showed grit, we showed determination, all the characteristics you need," Magilton said.

Heart coach John van 't Schip said his side lacked finish.

"Looking at the way we played, the possession we had ... we didn't get out of it enough of what we wanted," van 't Schip said. "Overall I thought we were well organized and I'm very proud of how the team played in general. We just weren't decisive enough up front."

Tim Brown and Dani Sanchez scored for Wellington as it rallied after conceding an early goal to Bruce Djite.