Perth get New Year's party started with fourth win on the spin
In-form Perth Glory wrapped up 2019 in style as a 3-0 win against the Central Coast Mariners made it four straight Hyundai A-League triumphs for the Premiers.
Goals from Tony Popovic’s dynamic front three - Diego Castro, Joel Chinese and Bruno Fornaroli - put the visitors in a commanding position after an hour while battling howling 80km winds in Gosford.
The testing conditions proved to be an equaliser in a closely-contested opening 45 minutes on New Year’s Eve, until Castro produced the fireworks from 20 yards out to break the deadlock a minute into first-half stoppage time.
Chianese headed in from close range three minutes after the restart before Fornaroli took advantage of Ziggy Gordon’s slip to tighten Glory's grip on the points on 62 minutes.
Jordan Murray and Kim Eun-Sun spurned chances to grab a consolation as the Glory juggernaut rolled on at Central Coast Stadium, with Perth climbing to third place in the Hyundai A-League ladder after sitting bottom of the pile only four rounds ago.
Glory’s fourth straight win on the Central Coast condemned Alen Stajcic’s side to finish the year in ninth position, a point ahead of Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets and five points off the Finals Series places in the top six.
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With Gosford feeling the effect of nearby bush fires, Central Coast kicked off in hazy conditions but Danny De Silva showed few ill-effects when he crashed a strike back off the Glory goalpost following an exchange with Jair in the first minute.
Chianese’s 20-yard snapshot whistled over the Mariners crossbar in the 18th minute before an 80km per hour southerly wind began to blow through Central Coast, prompting the iconic Master Foods sauce bottles to be deflated and removed from behind Liam Reddy’s goal.
Castro burst open a tight content by drilling a thunderbolt into the corner after Kilkenny’s 46th-minute corner was only half-cleared by Dylan Fox, but there was still time before the break for Silvera to hit Central Coast’s first shot on target after Lewis Miller’s error; the long-range effort was well parried by Reddy.
Mariners ‘keeper Mark Birighitti admitted needing to take eye drops to combat the dust being blow into his face and the wind swirled on in the second half, but he had little chance with Chianese’s header from James Meredith’s picture-perfect cross on 48 minutes.
Fornaroli added a simple tap-in on 62 minutes after Gordon’s fall allowed Castro to walk through on goal and square the ball to the Uruguayan, before Murray watched a golden chance go begging a minute later when Milan Duric’s precision cross found the substitute six yards out.
Korean livewire Kim’s speculative bicycle kick fizzed past the outside of Reddy’s post and the Mariners’ New Year’s party petered out with Glory shutting the game down and cruising into 2020 in ominous form.
De Silva almost punishes his old club
With less than a minute on the clock at Central Coast Stadium, Danny De Silva was a fraction away from making an instant impact.
Sammy Silvera set the former Perth attacker away down the Mariners left and De Silva exchanged passes with Brazilian attacker Jair on the edge of the Glory area.
The 22-year-old, who debuted for Glory at the age of 15, unleashed a strike which beat Liam Reddy in the Perth goal but cannoned back off the goalpost to safety.
Castro needs no second look to break the deadlock
The tricky weather conditions made it difficult for either side to stamp their mark on this contest but Diego Castro proved to be a cut above.
The Glory playmaker lined up on the edge of the Mariners area and, when Neil Kilkenny's corner kick was only headed half-clear by Dylan Fox, Castro took aim.
The Spanish maestro rifled a thunder bolt into the bottom corner of Mark Birighitti's net to gift Glory a lead heading into the half-time interval at Central Coast Stadium.
Silvera almost hits back immediately
There may have been less than a minute until half-time but that was not stopping Sammy Silvera.
The 19-year-old seized on a loose pass from Spanish midfielder Juande and raced towards the Perth Glory, taking from all of 25 yards.
His left-footed strike was heading goalwards but for Liam Reddy's outstretched hand, as the Mariners recorded their first shot on target.
Chianese heads in Meredith's picture-perfect cross
Glory made it goals either side of half-time just three minutes after the restart.
Tony Popovic's side came out with a thrust in their step and, after the ball was worked out to the left side, wing-back James Meredith produced a pin-point out-swinging delivery.
Joel Chianese timed his run to perfection to get ahead of his marker and bury his header across Mark Birighitti's goal into the corner of the Mariners net to make it goals in back-to-back games.
Fornaroli capitalises on Gordon's slip for three
2019 had been a rough year for Bruno Fornaroli but the Uruguyan striked rounded off the year on a high by scoring his sixth Hyundai A-League goal for Perth Glory.
Having not played a competitive match for almost 12 months until the start of the 2019/20 following his exile at Melbourne City, Fornaroli is making Perth his new home.
After Ziggy Gordon's shocking slip, Diego Castro took advantage and put the ball on a plate for Fornaroli to add a simple tap in and bring in the new year in style.
Wellington Phoenix v Central Coast Mariners
Saturday, 4 January 2020
Kick off: 5.00pm AEDT