Glory's finals bid gathers pace as red-hot Ikonomidis hits late winner to down Adelaide
The in-form Chris Ikonomidis completed a dramatic late turnaround as Perth Glory clinched their fourth straight A-League win after overcoming Adelaide United 2-1 at HBF Park.
The fourth-placed Reds held a deserved advantage with 13 minutes remaining thanks to Kusini Yengi’s first-half goal but an equaliser by Bruno Fornaroli was quickly followed by Ikonomidis’ winner as Glory and showed their determination to keep their top-six hopes alive.
The Western Australians had started May by going six games without a win, falling 10 points off the Finals Series spots, but after red-hot Socceroo Ikonomidis netted for a fourth straight game, Richard Garcia’s side pulled level on points with sixth-placed Brisbane Roar.
Carl Veart’s side were seeking to edge ahead in the race for second place and a Finals Series bye, and their coaches’ best laid plans seemed to be working when Yengi, coming into the side to replace the sidelined Tomi Juric, hit his fourth goal of the season in the 28th minute with the Reds totally dominant in the first half.
Perth coach Garcia sent on captain Diego Castro in a triple half-time substitution but Adelaide continued to control possession and create the better chances but the wasteful away side could not finish off the resolute hosts, with Fornaroli marking his 50th game in Glory colours by heading his 11th goal of the season in the 78th minute to reignite Perth’s unlikely charge for post-season football.
With Perth's energy lifted and confidence flowing, Ikonomidis capped off his 50th competition appearance by lashing in a volley with four minutes left on the clock to continue the 26-year-old’s fairytale comeback since returning to action last month following a series of devastating injuries. Meanwhile, Adelaide fall three points off second with three to play, now only four points ahead of eighth-placed Glory.
The Reds suffered an early blow when captain Stefan Mauk did not make it through the warm up, with Louis D’Arrigo stepping in, but Joshua Cavallo showed Adelaide’s intention from the off, flashing a left-footed shot over. With Perth’s four-goal hero from Sunday, Andy Keogh, sidelined, Ciaran Bramwell was handed a start and the teenager powered a header across goal from Ikonomidis’ delivery.
Ryan Strain’s 15th-minute drive tested Liam Reddy’s reflexes as the Reds began to cause problems and Perth were struggling to get out of their own half as Ryan Kitto and Craig Goodwin saw shots blocked. Wave after wave of Adelaide attacks culminated with the late replacement, Louis D’Arrigo, providing the service in the 28th minute as Yengi won the battle with Darryl Lachman to bundle in the opener.
It was one-way traffic as the half progressed, with Jordan Elsey and Ben Halloran unable to control free headers from close range, while Bramwell provided a rare spark for Perth but was crowded out after Daniel Stynes' surge. Garcia turned to his bench at the break, sending on Castro, Osama Malik and Joel Chianese, but little changed after the restart with Jason Geria throwing in a last-gasp block to deny D'Arrigo.
After Kitto lashed stung Reddy’s hands once again, Castro began to settle and Glory began to get a foothold. The Spanish maestro came close in the 55th minute but the hosts were given a scare as Halloran burst behind the Perth defence from Goodwin’s pass but stabbed his chance wide under pressure from Kosuke Ota. The Japanese then almost made an impact in attack but Chianese could not reach his cross.
Reds coach Veart sent on the young Toure brothers, Al Hassan and Mohamed, in the 67th minute and the latter fizzed a drive across the face of Perth’s goal moments later but it was one of Garcia’s tactical switches that paid dividends, moving Ikonomidis from left-wing back to the right side of attack, and the 12-cap Socceroo delivered the perfect cross for Fornaroli to slip behind Elsey and power in the equaliser.
Glory fans had heads in hands when Malik thundered a close-range header past the post in the 80th minute from Castro's whipped set-piece. But Ikonomidis made no mistake when Castro and substitute Nick D'Agostino combined to set up Fornaroli, and the Uruguayan's wayward shot found its way to one of the A-League's most in-form players to clinch a sensational comeback and keep Perth fighting for finals football.
Next fixtures – Matchweek 22
Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United
Sunday, 23 May 2021
Venue: AAMI Park
Kick-off: 6.10pm AEST
Perth Glory v Macarthur FC
Sunday, 23 Mat 2021
Venue: HBF Park
Kick-off: 8.15pm AEST
Featured NewsRead more
Return of the A-League and W-League heralds new era for Australian club football
The countdown is on to the return of the best of Australian club football to stadiums across the country, with confirmation of the start dates of the new A-League and W-League seasons. Download the draw for Round 1-6 of the A-League here. The Australian Professional Leagues
Melbourne City signs Italian attacking midfielder Manuel Pucciarelli
Melbourne City FC is excited to announce the signing of Italian attacking midfielder Manuel Pucciarelli through to the end of the 2022/23 season. Pucciarelli, who turned 30 in June, brings a wealth of experience in one of the world's top leagues, having made 136 appearances in