Sunday morning’s (AEDT) English Premier League games brought mixed fortunes for Caltex Socceroos pair Mat Ryan and Aaron Mooy, while in Belgium Danny Vukovic’s Genk consolidated their place at the top of the ladder.
Goalkeeper Ryan enjoyed a quiet afternoon’s work as his Brighton side drew 0-0 at home to Watford to bring to an end a three-match losing streak in the league and edge another point towards safety.
The visitors failed to register a single shot on target, allowing Ryan to claim his fourth clean sheet of the campaign as Brighton maintained their record of never having lost a Premier League game in February (won two, drawn two).
It was not such a peaceful afternoon in London, where Aaron Mooy’s Huddersfield Town slumped to a 5-0 defeat at the hands of a rampant Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
After almost two months out with a MCL (medial collateral ligament) tear in his right knee, Mooy returned to action as a second-half substitute during Wednesday evening’s 1-0 defeat to Everton.
The midfielder played the full 90 minutes against Chelsea and had his side’s best effort, heading narrowly over in the seventh minute, but was powerless to stop the impressive home side.
“It is not easy after such a long time to come back and be directly involved within the game, but he is developing more and more and every training session is bringing him closer,” said Huddersfield boss Jan Siewert before the game.
“[Mooy’s return] is really important because he has such a big impact on the team.”
There was better news for a Socceroos star in the Belgian Pro League, where Danny Vukovic’s Genk battled to a 2-1 away win at Waasland-Beveren.
Vukovic pulled off a smart save from Aleksandar Boljevic eight minutes from time to ensure all three points and leave Genk nine points clear of second-place Antwerp and odds-on favourites for the title.
In the English Championship, Hull City have been on a tremendous run, and the return to the side of Jackson Irvine saw the Tigers keep up their challenge for a play-off place.
Irvine played the full match as Hull beat Stoke City 2-0 at the KCOM Stadium, leaving them just four points off all-important sixth place in the ladder.
There was no such good fortune for Massimo Luongo, whose Queens Park Rangers side went down 2-1 at Wigan and now sit in 14th place.
The 26-year-old midfielder forced a good save from Jamie Jones on the hour mark as QPR tried to battle their way back into the match, before being substituted by Ryan Manning with a couple of minutes remaining.
Despite the result, former England coach Steve McClaren – now in charge at the west London club – said “to have Mass back is a big boost for us” as his side retain an outside interest in the play-off places.
In Scotland, Caltex Socceroos captain Mark Milligan returned to Hibernian’s line-up for a home tie with third-placed Aberdeen.
Hibs parted company with coach Neil Lennon during the week, and they battled hard before going down 2-1 under caretaker-boss Eddie May.
In the German Bundesliga, Mat Leckie did not feature for Hertha BSC as his side lost a tight game 1-0 to VfL Wolfsburg in snowy conditions.