Perth Glory has snapped Melbourne Victory’s five-game unbeaten run, scoring a late penalty to record a thrilling 3-2 win at nib Stadium on Saturday night.
Glory scored twice in three minutes in the first half to take a surprise lead before Besart Berisha scored either side of the break to put the match back on even terms.
Victory continued to fight despite Fahid Ben Khalfallah’s dismissal for kicking Shane Lowry in the 56th minute, but substitute Nick Ansell conceding a penalty eight minutes before full-time for pushing Glory striker Andy Keogh in the back.
Diego Castro slotted home the winner from the spot to keep alive Glory’s faint hopes of finishing in the Hyundai A-League top six.
1-0 Andy Keogh (27’) – Glory goalkeeper Ante Covic sent a high clearance deep into his side’s attacking half, with Victory defender Thomas Deng coming to meet it on the bounce. However, the ball slipped under Deng’s foot and Keogh pounced on the error, chipping over the head of Victory custodian Danny Vukovic to net his first goal of the season.
2-0 Diego Castro (29’) – Nebojsa Marinkovic’s powerful strike from outside the box was blocked by a diving Vukovic, but the save was not clean and Keogh again sensed an opportunity to pick up the crumbs. The Irishman fired on goal, threading the ball under Vukovic but hitting the near post and deflecting into the path of an unmarked Castro, who calmly slotted home his team’s second goal in three minutes.
2-1 Besart Berisha (44’) – The Albanian international was being closely marked by Glory centre backs Alex Grant and Shane Lowry, but that didn’t stop him taking possession from Fahid Ben Khalfallah just inside the box, turning his opponents inside out and putting the ball past Covic to pull one back for Victory on the cusp of half-time.
2-2 Besart Berisha (69’) – With his side down a man, Berisha stepped up to put the match back on level terms, rising above Glory midfielder Gyorgy Sandor from a corner kick to head home the equaliser at the back post. It was Berisha’s 13th goal of the season.
3-2 Diego Castro (82’ pen) – Keogh was pushed in the back by Victory substitute Nick Ansell as he attempted to connect with a dangerous cross into the box. Referee Kris Griffiths-Jones awarded an instant penalty and Castro casually chipped the ball toward the bottom left corner as Vukovic dived in the opposite direction.
Expect plenty of discussion over Fahid Ben Khalfallah’s dismissal over the course of this week. The Tunisian was initially shown a yellow card for kicking Glory defender Shane Lowry behind the play, but after consulting one of his assistants, referee Kris Griffiths-Jones changed his decision to a red card and Ben Khalfallah was give his marching orders. Victory, down to 10 men, found an equaliser through Besart Berisha, but ultimately Glory took advantage of having an extra player on the pitch and claimed the three points.
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Glory remains undefeated against Victory in their past six A-League encounters. Western Australia has also not been a happy hunting ground for Kevin Muscat’s team, with Victory recording just one win from their past six visits to Perth across all competitions.
Glory defender Aryn Williams was pulled out of the starting line-up with an unspecified injury just minutes before kick-off, opening the door for new recruit Shane Lowry to make his A-League debut on the pitch rather than as a substitute. Williams watched the entire match from the bench as unused substitute.
Kenny Lowe’s side is now firmly back in finals contention, now just three points adrift off sixth-placed Adelaide United. The additions of Andy Keogh and Shane Lowry at both ends of the pitch may just be the catalyst for Glory to make a late-season surge into the finals. A tough trip across the Tasman to play the struggling Wellington Phoenix next Sunday awaits, but a win could lift Perth into the top six if other results go their way.