Western Sydney clinches 1st place in A-League

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NEWCASTLE, Australia (AP) -The Western Sydney Wanderers have beaten Newcastle 3-0 to clinch first place in the A-League and leave their city neighbors led by former Juventus star Alessandro Del Piero still with a chance of qualifying for the playoffs.

The surprising first-year Wanderers will finish the regular season with 57 points, six clear of second-place Central Coast, which plays its final match Saturday.

More importantly, Newcastle's loss left the Jets out of a top-six playoff spot and allowed Del Piero's Sydney FC to remain in sixth place despite a 3-1 loss to defending champions Brisbane on Thursday.

It might only be a brief reprieve for Sydney, however. The Perth Glory, a point behind Sydney, could take the final spot with a win Saturday over Adelaide United, which has already qualified for the finals.

Western Sydney striker Mark Bridge scored goals in the sixth and 33rd minutes and Rocky Visconte added the Wanderers' final goal with a stunning 25-yard strike with 10 minutes remaining to start the celebrations for the large contingent of traveling supporters.

Brisbane's win put the Roar into the playoffs. They'll play the Victory in Melbourne next Friday or Adelaide next Sunday in South Australia depending on how the remaining matches pan out.

It capped a remarkable comeback under Mike Mulvey, who took over as head coach from Rado Vidosic in late December with the Roar all but written off for the season.

"I don't feel relief - it's excitement," Mulvey said. "I am very proud of the guys. We have had our moments since I have come in but tonight is something that they can take great credit for. They deserve it."

In Sunday's final match of the regular season, last-place Wellington takes on the Victory. Depending on the Perth-Adelaide result on Saturday, the Victory could go into the match knowing they've clinched third place.

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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