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Western Sydney tops A-League but Brisbane moves up with 4-0 win over Central Coast

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SYDNEY — Brisbane joined Western Sydney atop the A-League table by beating last-place Central Coast 4-0 in the weekend's 18th round.

Western Sydney hold first place on goal difference after drawing with the Melbourne Victory 1-1, but Brisbane closed the gap to one goal with another substantial winning margin after topping Sydney FC 3-1 last week.

Brisbane's 7-1 record in its last two matches helped repair its differential after losing to the Victory 4-0 in Round 15, and losing to Adelaide 4-1 in Round 16.

Saturday's win was its fifth in succession over Central Coast and completed a seasonal sweep over the Mariners after a 2-1 win in Round 2 and 1-0 win in Round 11. Brisbane is unbeaten in 23 matches against Central Coast in which it has scored first.

Veteran defender Jade North and Jamie Maclaren scored for Brisbane to lead 2-0, and the halftime introduction of former Liverpool star Luis Garcia couldn't turn the tide for the Mariners. Maclaren's goal was his 10th of the season and his 14th in his last 16 A-League games.

Midfielder Miguel Angel Garcia Perez-Roldan, known as Corona, scored the third, and Henrique added the fourth from the penalty spot after Mariners defender Harry Ascroft was shown a red card for a foul on Maclaren.

Substitute Brendan Santilab scored in the 89th minute as 10-man Western Sydney snatched a 1-1 draw with the Victory.

Besart Berisha's 14th goal of the season gave Melbourne a 1-0 lead, and the striker played a part in the fracas which led to the sending off of the Wanderers' Alberto Aguilar.

The Victory are unbeaten in their last 10 matches at home, including their last four against Western Sydney.

Wanderers coach Tony Popovic didn't dispute the stoppage-time dismissal of Aguilar for slapping Berisha, but said the Victory player was probably equally guilty and also deserved a red card.

"I've seen it and if you raise your arm then it's deemed as a red," Popovic said. "If you want to call it a slap to the face, then that's what you call it, a slap to the face.

"We can't complain about a player raising his arm or his hand but there was a melee there of pretty much every player. If you look at the footage, I felt there's a lot worse before the Alberto incident."

Referee Ben Williams dished out nine yellow cards, but Victory coach Kevin Muscat said he didn't believe the game was ill-tempered.

"It was a competitive game," he said. "There were two teams that wanted to win. I don't think there was anything nasty in terms of the tackles."

Sydney FC held fifth place after Friday's 2-2 draw with sixth-place Adelaide, which holds an eight-point buffer over seventh-place Perth. Melbourne City will move clear of the Victory in third place if it can beat Newcastle on Sunday.

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