Aussies Abroad: Irvine's Hull surge, Rogic's Celtic make it perfect 10

Jackson Irvine’s Hull City surged into the top half of England’s Championship, while Tom Rogic and Celtic restored their lead in the Scottish Premiership. 

The Tigers made short work of mid-table rivals Birmingham City in a 3-0 victory at the KC Stadium to climb to 11th place.

Tom Eaves broke the deadlock in stoppage time of a closely-contested first-half with a back-post header from Kamil Grosicki’s delivery, before the Polish forward turned from provider to scorer.

Grosicki added the finish to Jarrod Bowen’s through ball on 58 minutes and substitute Keane Lewis-Potter had the final word late on to give Hull a goal difference boost.

Head coach Grant McCann’s side are now only four points outside of the playoff places in a congested top half.

"Defensively we did what we need to do more of this season,” McCann said.

“When we lost the ball we sprinted, we've worked a lot this week on recoveries and that's something the best teams have in this league, we're nearly there."

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Elsewhere in England, Harry Souttar and Fleetwood Town picked up a 2-2 draw on the road against Rotherham United in League One.

The Cod Army held the lead twice at New York Stadium through Ched Evans’ double, but the Millers battled back on both occasions as the playoff contenders shared the points.

In the Premier League, Mat Ryan and Aaron Mooy were on the losing side as Brighton & Hove Albion went down 1-0 against Sheffield United.

Ollie McBurnie’s 23rd-minute goal proved decisive at the AMEX Stadium as the Seagulls remain in 13th place in the ladder.

Mooy was voted man of the match by Brighton fans and the Caltex Socceroos playmaker's 18th-minute effort almost gave the Seagulls a dream start.

His 20-yard attempt forced a strong save from Blades keeper Dean Henderson before Neal Maupay tapped in the rebound as the flag went up for offside.

Australia's number one, Ryan, saved John Egan’s 54th-minute header but Graham Potter’s side could not force a way back in to the game.

"We didn't play well,” Potter said. “They made it difficult for us and we weren't as good as we like to be. We can look at ourselves and learn from the game, we can do better.”

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Rogic’s Celtic reinstated their five-point advantage at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a 2-1 win against Aberdeen.

The Hoops made it 10 league wins in a row, and 16 from 18 league matches this season as Rogic came on in the 82nd minute.

Christopher Jullien gave the home side the lead at Celtic Park but Sam Cosgrove’s strike squared up the game for the Dons.

Odsonne Edouard’s second-half effort edged Neil Lennon’s side back in front before Cosgrove was sent off and the visitors battled through the rest of the match with ten players.

Earlier in the day, second-place Rangers had swung the gap back to two points with a 3-0 win against Martin Boyle’s Hibernian.

Former Liverpool youngster Ryan Kent, Joe Aribo and ex-England international Jermain Defoe were on target for Steven Gerrard’s side.

A red card for Ryan Porteous ended Hibs’ resistance and the Edinburgh-based club slipped to seventh place with the loss. 

Elsewhere in the UEFA zone, Trent Sainsbury’s Maccabi Haifa progressed to the ninth round of the Israeli State Cup.

Dolev Haziza struck a double in extra-time of the 3-1 win against Sektzia New Tziona at Sammy Ofer Stadium.

Yuval Ashkenazi opened the scoring on the stroke of half time but Osher Abu’s 71st-minute goal sent the match to an additional 30 minutes.

In Germany, Brandon Borrello was brought off the bench in the 76th minute in Freiburg SC’s 2-2 Bundesliga draw against Schalke 04.

The visitors fell behind to Suat Serdar’s 26th-minute goal at Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, but a pair of penalties from Nils Petersen and Vincenzo Grifo tipped the game in their favour.

Ahmed Kutucu’s 80th-minute goal levelled the scores up as Freiburg remain eighth in the ladder heading into the winter break. 

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Back in Australia, Andrew Redmayne and Ryhan Grant saw Sydney FC’s six-match winning streak halted in a 2-2 draw against Wellington Phoenix.

An own goal from Steven Taylor earned the Sky Blues a point after Adam Le Fondre’s opener was cancelled out by Rene Piscopo and Ulises Davila’s goals for the Nix at Sky Stadium. 

The draw extends the Hyundai A-League Champions lead at the top to six points after Jamie Maclaren’s Melbourne City lost 2-1 against Melbourne Victory in the Christmas Derby.

A double from Swedish captain Ola Toivonen won the game for Victory, although City hit back through Harrison Delbridge at AAMI Park.

Western Sydney Wanderers captain Mitchell Duke helped his side end a five-match losing streak in a 1-1 draw against Western United on Friday night.

Patrick Ziegler’s 79th-minute header put Markus Babbel’s side ahead but Aaron Calver equalised for the visitors eight minutes later.

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