ANDREW Nabbout scored a contender for goal of the year but his sublime effort was overshadowed by a series of controversial decisions against the Jets in a pulsating 2-all draw with Western Sydney at Spotless Stadium on Friday night.
The visitors were on the wrong end of three contentious decisions, two involving the Video Assistant Referee.
Two of the rulings led to Wanderers goals – penalties to Oriol Riera in the 7th and 67th minutes – and the other resulted in a goal being taken away from Jets winger Jason Hoffman.
Furious Jets coach Ernie Merrick described the officiating, led by on-field referee Peter Green, as “disgraceful”.
“Who is the boss, the guy in the middle or the VAR,” Merrick said. “I thought it was a disgraceful refereeing performance. We scored three good goals. One was chalked off and they scored two penalties both of which were very dubious. I have been a fan of the VAR until today.”
Wanderers opened the scoring after a debatable penalty against Nikolai Topor-Stanley for a collision with Marcelo Carrusca in the box. The VAR wasn’t called on but replays showed that contact was minimal.
Topor-Stanley was also involved in the second drama. With the scores at 1-all in the 67th minute, the VAR, Strebre Dilovski ruled that the stopper had been guilty of a deliberate handball after a Carrusca shot ricocheted into his arm. Play had moved down the other end of the field when the VAR intervened.
Then, with the scores again level at 2-all, the VAR judged that Jason Hoffman had fouled Vedran Janjetovic after the keeper knocked a cross into his own net. Green had given the goal.
The Jets had earlier benefited from a VAR call when a Chris Ikonomidis goal was correctly pulled back for offside.
In among the controversy, Petratos (48th) and Nabbout (68th) scored two wonder goals.
With the Jets down and in need of a lift, Petratos curled a left foot shot into the right corner in the 48th minute.
His effort paled in comparison to Nabbout’s strike. The winger burst into the box, exploding past two defenders, and then hit a shot with the outside of his right boot that curled beautifully inside the left upright.
The Jets double meant they are now only the sixth side in the history of the A-League to scored in 20 straight games.
The point moved them to 38 points, five clear of third placed Melbourne City with seven games remaining.
As expected Ernie Merrick made two changes from the 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory a fortnight ago. Daniel Georgievski returned from suspension at for Lachlan Jackson and Wayne Brown covered for Ben Kantarovski.
Wanderers coach Josep Gombau, chasing a third straight win, stuck with the XI that thumped Wellingtonb.
Gombau spoke about gaining revenge in the lead-up after the Wanderers were belted 4-0 by the Jets in Newcastle in late December.
The Jets received an early let off when Ikonomidis collected a defence-splitting through ball from Carrusca and slid an angled shot past jack Duncan in the fourth minute.
Green awarded the goal only for the VAR to intervene.
However, the reprieve was only brief. A minute later Riera converted from the spot. It was the Spaniard’s 10th goal for the campaign and fourth in four games.
Nigel Boogaard went close to an equaliser five minutes later when he met a Petratos freekick with his head but was denied by the crossbar.
Ikonomidis continued to cause problems with his pace in behind.
The Jets started to come to life in the closing stages of the half.
Pato Rodriguez went close in the 37th minute when he skipped past two defender and hit a stinging shot, which forced a diving save at the near post by Vedran Janjetovic.
Janjetovic had to react quickly two minutes from half-time when a left-foot shot from Petratos deflected off a Wanderers defender.
The Jets needed a lift it came in the first minute of the second half, when Roy O’Donovan and Janjetovic clashed after the keeper reacted to a challenge by the striker.
A minute later, the Jets were on level terms.
O’Donovan played a ball to Petraton on the edge of the area and he curled a first-time left footer into the right corner.
The Jets were starting to get on top when the second penalty went against them.
Riera made no mistake. But as they have done all season the Jets found a way back.