Dadi brace sinks Victory
The Perth Glory have given retiring goalkeeper Jason Petkovic a dream send off at members Equity Stadium, coming from behind to defeat Melbourne 3-2 in a thrilling Sunday evening encounter.
The Perth Glory have given retiring goalkeeper Jason Petkovic a dream send off at Members Equity Stadium, coming from behind to defeat Melbourne 3-2 in a thrilling Sunday evening encounter that dints Melbourne's premiership chances.
Looking to go back on top of the Hyundai A-League table, the Victory opened the scoring through Danny Allsopp in the third minute before missing several gilt-edged chances to increase the lead.
The Glory hit back after a momentum-changing drinks break made necessary by the 30 degree plus temperature, scoring two goals in three minutes before half-time through Eugene Dadi's header and a one-on-one by Nikita Rukavytsya.
The Victory restored parity in the 47th minute after a fumble by Petkovic allowed Ney Fabiano to prod home.
But the veteran goalkeeper gave a last hurrah in the 71st minute, palming a low shot from Fabiano around the post before Dadi completed his brace five minutes later, volleying home to give Perth the lead once more against the run of play.
Victory coach Ernie Merrick was at a loss to explain the momentum change during the first half.
"I wish I knew," he said. "Such a dominant performance in the first 15 minutes or so, and they were looking good and just fell away."
"To their credit I thought Perth just battled away, they destroyed everything we tried to create in midfield and caught us on the break a couple of times."
Glory coach Dave Mitchell said the short break just allowed him to tweak his structure a little.
"They came out and scored a good goal and they were causing us all sorts of problems," Mitchell said.
"But the drinks break probably helped us and we got re-organised a little bit and from there I dont think we had any problems."
With the Glory out of finals contention after Queensland's win over Central Coast on Saturday night, the result sees the Perth club consolidate seventh place on the Hyundai A-League standings, with the loss possibly a telling blow to second-placed Melbourne's minor premiership chances as its now a point behind Adelaide with the Reds enjoying a match in hand.
Melbourne, though, started like a rocket, exposing the Glory's defence in the third minute.
Perth centre-back Nikolai Topor-Stanley was worked under a high ball with Archie Thompson's through ball allowing Allsopp to burst forward, the Victory striker slipping the ball home under Petkovic.
Buoyed by the goal and with the Glory looking particularly uncomfortable in possession, the in-form Victory pressed the advantage, Carlos Hernandez attempting a cross-cum-shot at goal that slipped wide and was cleared by impressive young Perth defender Scott Neville.
A poor bounce of the ball in the 12th minute prevented Thompson from going forward and creating a one-on-one with Petkovic, while a rapid counter-attack from the visitors ended with Allsopp firing a tentative shot into the post with Thompson blasting the rebound over.
The drinks break couldn't have come fast enough for the Glory but they responded in emphatic style, wresting the momentum back from Melbourne within 30 seconds of the 25th minute re-start when Adriano Pellegrino belted a scorching 20-metre shot into the crossbar.
Two minutes later Rukavytsya accelerated through Melbourne's defence but the striker, departing on Monday for a trial at Dutch club FC Twente, slipped his shot narrowly wide.
In the 32nd minute, Pellegrino's cross from the right caused confusion in the Victory box and Dadi was unlucky not to receive a spot kick, but it hardly mattered as the big French-Ivorian rose high to powerfully nod home the resulting Pellegrino corner.
Three minutes later, the Glory took the lead when a poor pass in defence from Billy Celeski allowed Victor Sikora to steal possession from Rody Vargas, the Dutchman laying off for Rukavytsya to advance on goal and bury a classy left-foot finish with the outside of his boot.
Suddenly it was Melbourne looking all at sea as Topor-Stanley made a barnstorming run at goal and Theoklitos smothered a shot from Rukavytsya but the Victory made the hosts pay for their misses just after half-time.
Melbourne won a free kick on the edge of the square but the danger looked to have been averted when Petkovic took it in the air. But a fumble by the goalkeeper saw the ball bobble up to Fabiano, the Brazilian prodding it home just seconds after coming on for the ineffectual Hernandez.
In the hot conditions, the equaliser led to a lull in proceedings as the Victory pressed for another goal while the Glory seemed content to defend and attack on the break.
But despite controlling possession, and seeing a low shot from Fabiano palmed around the post by Petkovic, the Victory were caught out by a 76th minute sucker-punch after Dadi was fouled 20 metres from goal.
A dipping free kick from Naum Sekulovski wasn't cut off by Vargas and a lunging Dadi got his foot to it on the full, the volley flying past Theoklitos to give the Glory the lead once more.
The task got harder for Melbourne with two minutes left on the clock when Matthew Kemp received a second yellow card for a poor challenge on Neville, with Perth coming close to adding a fourth during injury time.
A good ball from Nick Rizzo released Dadi but the striker was pulled back by Kevin Muscat on the edge of the area, the referee opting not to point to the spot as Dadi appeared to have milked the contact for more than it was worth.
Perth Glory 3 (Dadi 32, 76, Rukavytsya 35) Melbourne Victory 2 (Allsopp 3, Fabiano 47) Crowd: 9381 at Perth's Members Equity Stadium