Amazing hat-tricks, sublime assists and maiden goals: The A-League players who were the difference in Round 22


Round 22 was an interesting one.

There were 15 goals in six matches, with four of the 12 teams keeping a clean sheet.

In three of the five games where a team claimed three points the winning team had less possession than their opponent.

Check out who made a difference.

Adelaide United

Nestory Irankunda, enough said! The game was in the balance until Irankunda broke the deadlock with a clinical finish in the 19th minute and from then on it was predominantly the Reds who had the ascendancy.

The Bayern Munich bound winger put on a show scoring a hat-trick, with his second and third goal coming within the space of two minutes, just after half time.

In an insightful post-match interview Stefan Mauk said: “I think he’s obviously shown his got so much quality and tonight he was the difference for him.”

Western United left-back Ben Garuccio said: “Nestor’s one of the best talents we’ve seen is this country. He’s definitely a lot quicker than we that’s for sure.”

Irankunda’s post-match comments were interesting: “It’s my best performance in the league in the last three years. I was also happy for Stef as well as Stef and I have that friendship at training. I think that’s just a taste of what we can do.”

Irankunda celebrates after completing his hat-trick (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Western United

Michael Ruhs made the deficit two goals with a quality finish from a difficult angle, with the ball going through the legs of James Delianov, who kept the Reds in the game until Irankunda scored the opening goal.

The 21-year-old pounced on a rare mistake by the Reds right-back Javi Lopez, with a goal in the 50th minute from a difficult angle.

Melbourne City

Marin Jakolis had a solid game and he created five chances. Along with that, his general play was great and the Croatian deserves plenty of credit for the shift he put in.

Newcastle Jets

Ryan Scott was a standout for the Jets with nine saves; you wouldn’t have known that they have problems off the field, if you saw the performance from their goalkeeper.

Robbie Stanton alluded to how proud he was of the team performance post-match: “For a young group they’ve conducted themselves brilliantly.”

Even City defender Nuno Reis gave credit to the opposition goalkeeper: “Today their goalkeeper was one of the best in the match.”

Sydney FC

Anthony Caceres is a player with immense talent and has a fantastic work rate, which was there for all to see, on a night where the Sky Blues were far too good for the Mariners.

The game was in the balance on the scoreboard, until Caceres broke the deadlock in the 74th minute with an exquisite finish from a pinpoint cross from Joe Lolley.

The 31-year-old gave an interesting synopsis: “We kept a good intensity throughout the whole game. We’ve come to a point now that we’re very confident in our fitness and our game plan. I always want to score goals. I end up playing wherever the coach wants to put me. Our mentality needs to be spot on, we can’t be complacent.”

.@SydneyFC break the deadlock through a brilliant finish from Anthony Caceres ????????

The midfielder volleys Joe Lolley’s cross into the bottom corner to give the Sky Blues the lead with 15 minutes remaining ????

Tune in on Paramount+ and 10 BOLD ????#SYDvCCM #ALM

— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) March 30, 2024

Central Coast Mariners

Brian Kaltak plays with plenty of heart and leaves it all out there on the pitch; the two-goal margin would’ve been much bigger than the Sky Blues won by, if not for the Vanuatu international.

The 30-year-old showed his class post-match: “It was really tough, because they played really good attacking football.”

Wellington Phoenix

Sam Sutton had a fantastic game for the Phoenix from start to finish; the left-back provided the assist for the only goal of the game, which was scored in the second minute by Bozhidar Kraav.

The 22-year-old created four chances and displayed his quality defensively, in what was a complete performance from him.

In his post match interview he was perceptive: “We’ve got to keep pushing and get another goal.”

Brisbane Roar

Jay O’Shea played well for the Roar; he created three chances, most notably in the fourth minute of the game for Nikola Mileusnic.

The Irishman had two shots on target, with one from a free kick in the 83rd minute which was well saved by Phoenix goalkeeper Alex Paulsen. Along with that, his general play was good as he passed the ball at 92 per cent accuracy.

Melbourne Victory

Daniel Arzani played a key part in both goals scored by Bruno Fornaroli and his general play was sublime.

The opening goal came through a clever back heal by Arzani, which led to Zinedine Machach providing an assist for Fornaroli in the 16th minute.

The second goal that gave Victory what proved to be an unassailable two-goal lead was brought about by a sublime cross from Arzani in 53rd minute, which Fornaroli headed into the back of the net.

Despite a near flawless game the Socceroo showed his ruthlessness: “I had two big chances probably should’ve put one away.”

EL TUNA STRIKES FIRST!! ????@gomvfc take the lead against @PerthGloryFC, thanks to some smart play from Bruno Fornaroli!
Watch #MVCvPER, live and free on 10 Bold and 10 Play!

— 10 Football (@10FootballAU) March 31, 2024

Perth Glory

Jarrod Carluccio made an impact off the bench; the 23-year-old got the Glory back into the game.

After receiving the ball from fellow substitute David Williams, Carluccio provided a great assist, which made the deficit one goal in the 61st minute, in what was Daniel Bennie’s first goal in the A-League.

Macarthur FC

Lachlan Rose made an impact off the bench for the Bulls; the substitute crossed a ball that resulted to a goal scored by fellow substitute Matthew Millar in the 86th minute.

The 24-year-old also delivered a good cross from a corner in the 91st minute that led to Tomislav Uskok heading the ball into the path of fellow substitute Yianni Nicolaou, who missed a great opportunity.

Western Sydney Wanderers

Nicolas Milanovic breathed life into the game for the Wanderers, as the substitute broke the deadlock with an incredible finish in the 57th minute.

The young star, also played a part in their second goal, given he provided the assist for Sonny Kittel, who made the score 2-nil in their favour in the 70th minute.

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The 22-year-old made some insightful comments post-match: “That’s my job, to come off the bench and have an impact. The first half we were dominated.”

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