Berisha brace helps United down Perth and leapfrog Reds
Western United all-but secured a berth in the Finals Series with a comfortable 2-0 win over Perth Glory at Bankwest Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Green and Black moved ahead of Adelaide United into sixth on the Hyundai A-League table thanks to a brace from United striker Besart Berisha against finals rivals Perth, who slumped to their second loss in a row to conclude their regular-season campaign.
It seemed fitting in a first half of few chances that the opening goal came in fortuitous circumstances, when a save from Liam Reddy deflected off Berisha's chest and into the net.
Glory looked much improved after their out-of-sorts 4-0 loss to Melbourne Victory last time out but Popovic's side lacked a clinical edge in the final third throughout the opening stanza, displaying loose first touches and errant passes as they tried to break through United's defensive line.
Perth had all the territory to open the second half but United again proved more prepared to make the most of their chances when Berisha scored his second of the night from the penalty spot after Connor Pain drew a foul out of Ivan Franjic in the box.
Chances to Neil Kilkenny and Bruno Fornaroli highlighted Glory's gallant search for a goal but no such reward was to come for their efforts, as Berisha's 17th and 18th goals of the campaign proved enough for Mark Rudan's side to clinch the three points needed to take them into the top six.
United now sit level on points with Adelaide with two games to play, but with a 15-goal advantage over the Reds they now only need to avoid a capitulation of enormous proportions to secure their place in the Finals Series.
TUESDAY REPORT: Melbourne City v Adelaide United
TUESDAY REACTION: Veart hopeful of staying on as Adelaide coach on permanent basis
Fornaroli scissor kick misses the mark
Fornaroli threatened to put an end to a cagey opening to the game when he unleashed an ambitious scissor kick toward United's goal.
The chance came from a dead ball taken by Kilkenny who struck the ball low toward the near post; Fornaroli pushed Steven Lustica away, spun on the spot and swung his right boot in the air to dispatch the athletic attempt toward goal, but the ball faded wide of the mark.
Berisha benefits from fortunate rebound to open the scoring
Fate dealt Perth a cruel hand when United opened the scoring with their first genuine sight on goal just minutes before the half-hour mark.
Berisha was the beneficiary of the chance crafted by Alessandro Diamanti and Max Burgess, with the former finding the latter from a short corner routine for Burgess to curl a left-footed cross toward goal.
Berisha hurled himself at the ball but Reddy got to it first; unfortunately for the Glory gloveman his two-handed save hit Berisha's chest and fell into the back of the net.
Fornaroli indecision a reflection on Perth's attacking woes
Glory hadn't registered a shot on target in a game and a half of Hyundai A-League football, and the lack of confidence in front of goal showed when Fornaroli elected to take a cross from Kristian Popovic down on his knee instead of taking the shot on first-time.
The chance fell away quickly as the ball drifted out of Fornaroli's control, and Perth's search for a genuine sight on goal continued.
Berisha at the double from the spot
A trademark marauding run from Pain down United's left flank drew Glory full-back Franjic into a challenge inside the box which led to a penalty being awarded to the Green and Black.
Berisha was more than willing to step up to the spot and nab his second goal of the night, sending Reddy the wrong way as he curled the ball into the right-hand side of the goal.
Kilkenny stings Kurto's gloves from distance
Perth refused to let their form slump dictate their effort as Fornaroli led a strong push to get back into the contest.
The Uruguayan created Perth's best chance of the game when he held multiple United defenders off the ball to find Kilkenny streaming toward the edge of the box - Kilkenny sent a curling shot toward the top right corner of goal which called Filip Kurto into a diving save.
- Sydney FC v Western United
When: Saturday, August 15
Where: Leichhardt Oval
Kick-off: 5.00pm AEST