Five things we learned from A-League round 12

Introducing the competition's real leading goal-scorer. He doesn't take the penalty kicks, but he has scored more goals from open play than any other player this season.

Marco Rojas

Melbourne Victory's Marco Rojas celebrates after scoring his second goal during the round 12 A-League match against the Central Coast Mariners Source: AAP

1. Marco Rojas is the coolest finisher in the competition

The Melbourne Victory winger slots his goals so calmly, like he has ice in his veins.

He was at it again for a double in the 4-1 win over Central Coast Mariners, easily beating the goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation and finishing from an angle into an open net on the other occasion.

Rojas is never rushed into taking his shot too early. He waits for the goalkeeper to commit himself and then either hits the ball to either side of him, or underneath, or gently chips it.

Strikers Besart Berisha (Victory) and Bruno Fornaroli (Melbourne City) are the competition's joint leading goal-scorers after 12 rounds with nine apiece, one ahead of Rojas.

But take away goals scored from the penalty spot - two in Berisha's case and four in Fornaroli's - and Rojas leads the way.

Rojas has played less games than the other pair as well - just eight, compared to 11 for Berisha and 12 for Fornaroli.

2. The Jets are real

Newcastle are not good enough to win the title, but they are certainly good enough to make the finals for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

As long as they can keep the injury toll down to a minimum, they will get there.

The Jets knocked the ball around in great fashion against Wellington Phoenix. Twice, they came from a goal down for what ended up a 2-2 draw, but, really, they should have won.

They're still having trouble in front of goal, but if they can just make a reasonable improvement in that area and keep key player Andrew Nabbout on the field they are definitely top-six material.

3. Melbourne Victory, not Melbourne City, are the biggest dangers to Sydney FC

Victory have turned things around since their early-season losses to City in the A-League (4-1) and FFA Cup final (1-0).

They have won five and drawn one of their last six matches, including a 2-1 win over City, and in the biggest difference from early in the season all of their key players are in form.

Victory's 4-1 win over Central Coast Mariners was ridiculously easy. They toyed with them and are now in clear second place and still with a game in hand.

4. There could be an opening for Tim Cahill at the penalty spot

Bruno Fornaroli is the Melbourne City captain, so at this stage we've got to presume that if he wants to keep taking the penalty kicks, then he'll be taking them - even after two of his three attempts from the spot were saved by Perth Glory's Liam Reddy in the 3-3 draw.

But Cahill can be very persuasive, so let's see if there is a change - at least temporarily - next time City are awarded a penalty, or whether Fornaroli is hell-bent on redemption.

5. Red really is the colour of Christmas

Did Santa Claus mean it to be this way? Whether he did or not, that's the way it was with three players being shown straight red cards in the festive round.

Western Sydney Wanderers striker Brendon Santalab, who was already going to be banned for one game after earlier receiving his fifth yellow card for the season in the 1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar, is now out for a total of three after also being banned for violent conduct.

Perth Glory's Dino Djulbic and Melbourne City's Fernando Brandan are facing three and two-game bans respectively, also for violent conduct in each case.

Deciding on New Year's resolutions should be easy for this trio.

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4 min read
Published 29 December 2016 at 9:38am
By Greg Prichard