- Associated Press - Saturday, January 21, 2017

SYDNEY (AP) - Sydney FC beat defending champion Adelaide 2-0 to stay unbeaten after 16 rounds of Australian football’s A-League, extending its lead to eight points when the second-placed Melbourne Victory lost 2-1 at Perth.

Alex Brosque and Milos Ninkovic scored within two minutes midway through the second half as Sydney improved its record to 12 wins and four draws while Adelaide had its 10th loss of the season to stay ninth on the 10-team ladder.

The Victory’s chances of challenging Sydney for the premiership title were harmed by its second-straight defeat, giving up a 1-0 lead in a costly loss to fifth-placed Perth.

Melbourne City’s 2-1 win over last-placed Central Coast kept it in third place while Brisbane remained fourth after a 1-0 win over sixth-placed Wellington.

Western Sydney moved to seventh place, level on points with Wellington, after a 2-0 win over Newcastle in the last match of the round Sunday.

Sydney and the Victory are now preparing for their top-of-the-table meeting in Melbourne on Thursday which could further shape the premiership contest.

Speaking after Friday’s win over Adelaide, Sydney captain Brosque said Sydney would likely run away with the premiership if Melbourne cannot win next week.

“We’ve got a big game this week and it’s a must win for them, not for us,” Brosque said. “We just need to stay unbeaten and keep rolling on and keep pushing away.

“We definitely will be going down there for a win because we know that if we beat Melbourne Victory then there’s a big gap between us and second and that’s what we want.”

The gap between the teams has already widened after Melbourne’s loss to Perth. Albanian striker Besart Berisha gave Melbourne the lead with a penalty in the 58th minute but Perth produced a strong finish with goals by Nebojsa Marinkovic in the 77th and Adam Taggart in the 84th.

Victory coach Kevin Muscat refused to make excuses for his team which featured five changes after its 3-0 loss to Wellington on Tuesday. Melbourne had to make the long trip from Wellington to Perth for Saturday’s match but Muscat said fatigue was not a factor.

“I’m too long in the tooth to start allowing people to use that as an excuse,” Muscat said. “Running out the game doesn’t stop you from setting the wall up properly.

“There was enough freshness in there and our football was good. We created a load of chances and could have increased the lead and had it comfortably. But because you don’t score, it doesn’t mean you throw goals away at the other end.”

Tim Cahill scored twice as Melbourne City beat Central Coast 2-1. Cahill scored his first after three minutes but Central Coast hit back quickly through Roy O’Donovan.

O’Donovan was sent off midway through the first half and Cahill headed the winning goal in the 39th minute.

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