Opta reveals every club's best player from the Semi Finals
There was no lack of excitement and heartbreak on show as Perth Glory hosted Adelaide United, and Melbourne Victory travelled to Sydney FC for the Hyundai A-League Semi Finals last weekend.
With last-gasp goals, sensational saves and a devastatingly dominant display, there were plenty of strong performances across the two matches.
Opta have crunched the data to determine their pick of the bunch.
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Adelaide United – Ryan Kitto
On a different night – when things turned out differently and Adelaide United’s stoic resistance prevailed – Ryan Kitto’s ice-cool 94th-minute equaliser against Perth Glory would have gone down as the most dramatic moment of the season.
As Friday night’s crazy Semi Final panned out, Kitto’s heroics at the death were trumped by a pair of crashing extra-time headers from two other members of the defenders' union: Glory’s Scott Neville, and Kitto's Reds teammate Michael Marrone.
Regardless of how many times the momentum shifted during that enthralling contest in WA, the 24-year-old's performance should be remembered fondly.
He was the driving force behind Marco Kurz’s side and was invariably involved in the Reds’ best attacking moments, taking five shots on goal and making 10 crosses – one of those the superb delivery for Marrone’s header deep into extra time.
Melbourne Victory – Ola Toivonen
A humiliating Semi Final exit at the hands of your closest rivals is not the way Melbourne Victory star Ola Toivonen – brought in to power Kevin Muscat’s side to more silverware - envisaged finishing his debut season in Australia.
However, despite the doom and gloom that surrounds the club’s worst ever finals defeat, there will be some solace to be taken in how Toivonen, whose late consolation header against Sydney was his 15th goal of an impressive season, has successfully replaced Besart Berisha as Victory’s spearhead.
Only the legendary Hyundai A-League front man has ever scored more for Victory in a single season, Berisha racking up 21 goals in 2016/17, and 18 the previous year.
Perth Glory – Diego Castro
Tony Popovic’s Spanish magician offered another imperious performance in Perth’s shoot-out win over Adelaide.
He might have slowly fizzled out during that draining extra time, and seen a tame spot-kick parried by Reds ‘keeper Paul Izzo, but Diego Castro was at his unplayable best at times during Friday’s epic.
The former La Liga veteran made a round-high three shots on target and notched a goal in each half, as well as creating two scoring chances and winning 14 of his 23 duels. Another performance like this in the big dance against Sydney this coming weekend and Castro will surely cement his legacy as an all-time Hyundai A-League great.
Sydney FC – Milos Ninkovic
Melbourne Victory fans will be sick of the sight of Sydney’s Serbian playmaker, who scored his third goal in as many Big Blue matches against the Sky Blues’ arch-rivals on Sunday.
Ninkovic has only scored three goals this season, but he has saved all of them for Kevin Muscat’s men. And in Sydney’s biggest ever finals win, the 34-year-old was the architect-in-chief.
In addition to his expertly controlled finish late in the match, Ninkovic added a brilliant assist for Adam Le Fondre’s second, and – to highlight his influence, and Victory’s carelessness – made a round-high five interceptions.