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Del Piero double as Sydney keep in playoff race

By AFP, Sydney
07th-Apr-2014       
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Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero converted a penalty and scored a trademark free kick as Sydney FC tightened their grip on sixth spot in Australia's A- League on Sunday.
The Sky Blues downed Wellington Phoenix 4-1 with Del Piero in the thick of the action at a rain-sodden Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
Second half goals from Sebastian Ryall and Ali Abbas ensured victory to leave Sydney three points above seventh-placed Newcastle in the race for a top-six playoff spot.
The Phoenix were furious when Sydney were awarded a penalty after Del Piero was brought down in the box.
The Italian's ensuing spot-kick gave the hosts the lead in the 33rd minute.
Del Piero again made Phoenix pay when he curled a free kick around the defensive wall to put the Blues 2-0 up just before halftime and on track for victory.
Japanese star Shinji Ono was given an emotional farewell as Western Sydney Wanderers drew 1-1 with Brisbane Roar on Saturday.
It was 34-year-old Ono's last home game of the regular A- League season before the former international playmaker returns to Japan to join Consadole Sapporo.
The Wanderers staged a tribute to the respected Japanese player-capped over 50 times-with fireworks in the 21st minute and the 15,000-plus crowd unleashing confetti into the air and sporting Ono masks in honour of his number 21 playing shirt.
Defending champions Central Coast Mariners were nudged out of second spot by Wanderers after losing 3-1 to the Glory in Perth.
Two early penalties and an own goal given with an attacking player offside were eventful as Perth Glory moved off the bottom of the standings.
A late penalty from captain Mark Milligan sealed Melbourne Victory's place in the A-League finals and dented the Jets' play- off hopes in a 2-2 draw in Newcastle.
Newcastle led 2-1 at half-time and created the bulk of the chances in the second half before Jets defender Josh Mitchell fouled Victory striker Archie Thompson in the 85th minute.
Milligan stepped up to the spot and made no mistake to give the visitors a point.
A last-minute equaliser helped Adelaide United snatch a 2-2 draw with Melbourne Heart on Friday to lie in fourth spot and one spot from second place with one regular round left.
The Reds lost a player with a broken leg, a defender for headbutting, and also appeared to be losing the game until Portuguese Fabio Ferreira's last-gasp goal squared a feisty fixture.

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