Del Piero scores winner in Sydney A-League derby

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SYDNEY (AP) -Alessandro Del Piero scored the only goal by slotting in the rebound from his own penalty as his Sydney FC edged Western Sydney 1-0 in the third round of the A-League on Saturday.

The 37-year-old former Juventus star first earned the 52nd-minute penalty when he was brought down by Aaron Mooy after beating three defenders on a gliding run into the box. He then coolly steered the ball past goalkeeper Ante Covic, only to be told to take the shot again when referee Strebre Delovski ruled Sydney players encroached into the penalty area.

Del Piero's second attempt was saved by Covic but the rebound fell at his feet and he controlled the ball before blasting a shot into the roof of the net.

The goal was Del Piero's second in successive matches and gave Sydney the win in their first-ever derby with the league newcomers. It was the team's first win of the season, after its earlier losses to Wellington and Heskey's Jets.

"Certainly for me I felt some relief," Sydney coach Ian Crook said. "You start to question yourself a little bit but for me it was all about the players tonight, they were brilliant."

Former England striker Emile Heskey also bagged his second A-League goal in as many matches to contribute to the Newcastle Jets beating Central Coast 2-1 in a New South Wales state derby.

Heskey scored on the hour mark, adding to Ryan Griffiths' fifth-minute penalty and allowing Newcastle to hold off Central Coast's late rally. Substitute Bernie Ibini scored for the Mariners in the 71st minute and Patrick Zwaanswijk seemed to have grabbed a stoppage-time equalizer but was ruled offside.

Heskey's goal helped Newcastle to its second win from three matches, hoisting it toward the top of the A-League table.

Del Piero, who played a record 513 matches for Juventus and 91 internationals for Italy, joined Sydney on a $4 million, two-year contract only days before the league began, and while he showed individual brilliance his combination with his teammates has been lacking.

But Crook said the veteran striker was beginning to click with his fellow players.

"It's getting to know people and playing with them and knowing what they need, where they're going to be," he said. "We haven't had a lot of time as a team to do that but it's gradually picked up."

Heskey had a hand in both of Newcastle's goals on Saturday, emphasizing his value as the Jets' marquee signing.

He drew a penalty when he was brought down by New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey, allowing Griffiths to slot in the opening goal, before adding the decisive second.

Central Coast coach Graham Arnold was critical of the decision to award the opening penalty.

"I just thought it was a pretty average performance from the ref to be honest," Arnold said. "Mickey McGlinchey weighs 67 kilos and Emile Heskey weighs 100 kilos. My blood pressure has gone through the roof."

The Melbourne Victory opened the third round with their first win of the season, 2-1 over previous leaders Adelaide United. Adelaide was the only team to win back-to-back matches in the league's first two weeks.

The Victory came from behind to post its first win under new coach Ange Postecoglou, who guided Brisbane to back-to-back league titles. Goals from Mark Milligan and Marco Rojas cancelled out an earlier Dario Vidosic penalty which had given Adelaide a 1-0 lead.

"It was top versus bottom tonight, but what does that mean? It means nothing because there's such a fine line," Postecoglou said. "We were more solid tonight, we've still got a lot of work to do but we were solid and we needed to be after last week."

On Sunday, Wellington remained unbeaten through three games when it drew 1-1 with defending champion Brisbane and Perth, last year's beaten finalist, beat the Melbourne Heart 2-0.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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