SYDNEY (AP) — Western Sydney moved into second place in the A-League after a 1-1 draw with first-place Brisbane and Central Coast failed to keep pace with a 3-1 defeat to Perth Glory.
With Adelaide United's 2-2 draw with Melbourne Heart and another 2-2 draw between Melbourne Victory and Newcastle, four teams were separated by just one point in the battle for second place that provides a bye in the first round of the playoffs and an Asian Champions League spot next season.
On Sunday, former Juventus great Alessandro Del Piero scored twice — on a penalty and a free kick — to lead Sydney FC to a 4-1 win over the Wellington Phoenix, all but clinching the sixth and final playoff spot with one round remaining.
The Wanderers and Central Coast are level on 39 points and Adelaide and the Victory one point behind. Brisbane has 52 points and clinched the minor premiership two weeks ago.
The match in western Sydney was billed as Shinji Ono's farewell home match of the regular season. The veteran playmaker returns to Japan next year to join Sapporo Consadole.
"On the field he brings his quality, his class, his creativity," Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said of Ono. "He's very professional and very dedicated ... that's why he's had a great career and that's why at 34 he's still playing and getting another contract in Japan."
Liam Miller gave Brisbane a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute before Tomi Juric leveled for the Wanderers in the 61st.
At Perth, two early penalties and an own goal given with an attacking player offside helped the Glory move out of last place and ahead of the Heart. Retiring Glory captain Jacob Burns earned a penalty that Steve McGarry converted in the eighth minute.
Adelaide United defender Michael Marrone's season is over with a broken right leg after the draw with the Heart. Marrone, signed by the Reds in February from Chinese side Shanghai Shenxin, will take three or four months to recover, Adelaide coach Josep Gombau said.
Fabio Ferreira provided a last-minute equalizer for Adelaide, his ninth goal of the season, as the Reds recovered from an early red card to defender Tarek Elrich.