Perth keep slim Finals Series hopes alive with 3-0 win over Western United
Perth Glory kept the door to the 2020/21 A-League Finals Series slightly ajar with a second successive win in Matchweek 20, notching a convincing 3-0 victory over Western United at HBF Park on Wednesday night.
Perth came into the Matchweek without a win in six but put that bad run to bed with a pair of positive results, beating Melbourne Victory on Sunday evening before handily dispatching United three days later.
Bruno Fornaroli buried a free-kick into the top-right corner of the visiting side's goal to start the scoring in the first half, before Chris Ikonomidis found a gap between United 'keeper Ryan Scott's legs to double the advantage in the 22nd minute, scoring his third goal in as many A-League games.
Mark Rudan's travelling side came into the contest off the back of a dismal 5-0 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers early in Matchweek 20 and the lift of intensity early in the second 45 showed United were eager to avoid a repeat result in Perth.
Dylan Pierias threatened down the right flank and Besart Berisha invaded into dangerous areas but was denied a genuine sight of goal throughout the game by a steely Perth defence.
Joel Chianese emerged off the bench for the hosts to put the result beyond doubt with a sublime finish on 77 minutes. Tempers flared between both sides in the final minutes as a series of tense altercations occurred across the park, as the scoreline remained at 3-0 in Perth's favour to the final whistle.
The result moved Perth to within six points of Brisbane Roar in sixth. United, meanwhile, remain in eighth spot - failing to earn the three points needed to draw level with the Roar and seventh-placed Western Sydney Wanderers on 31 points.
WEDNESDAY REPORT: Brisbane Roar 0-0 Central Coast Mariners
An early free-kick converted by Perth striker Fornaroli got the home side's night underway in a brilliant first-half display which saw Glory take a two-goal lead into the break.
Ikonomidis won the initial foul on the edge of the box in a central area, and Fornaroli stood over the ball alongside Andy Keogh before the latter departed the scene, allowing Fornaroli to size up the target.
Scott was stood in the centre of goal, allowing the Uruguayan to target either side - Fornaroli elected to aim toward the top-right corner, and found it with a strong strike which rattled into its intended target.
A second goal was not far off for the home side, who doubled the advantage with 22 minutes on the clock. Joshua Rawlins got forward on a strong run from full-back down the right wing to latch onto a ball played over the top of United's defensive line, which presented the young defender with the chance to find Ikonomidis with a cross to the back post.
The angle was slim for Ikonomidis to convert but the Glory winger was able to find the gap between Scott's legs to see his shot dribble over the line.
Connor Pain attempted a volley down the other end which travelled directly into Besart Berisha from close range as a disjointed United attack continued its frustrating first half.
Daniel Stynes saw his shot saved by Scott with a strong right arm before Glory defender Jonathan Aspropotamitis got ahead of Berisha to make a desperate block at the front post in first-half stoppage time to keep Perth's sheet clean going into the break.
The away side brought a different energy to the second half, bursting out of the blocks to mount an assault on Glory's goal. Andrew Durante skied a shot from close range, only for the offside flag to spare his blushes, before Dylan Pierias grew in stature by creating a number of chances for his side to score.
Pierias angled an attempt of his own wide of Liam Reddy's right-hand goalpost before setting up Berisha with a cross whipped off the right wing into the danger zone; Berisha received the ball at his feet but got his legs tangled as the ball spilled out of his control.
Down the other end Fornaroli squandered the opportunity to bag his brace when getting on the end of a one-two with Keogh inside United's six-yard box. Fornaroli tried to flick Keogh's pass across goal on target from close range but fluffed his lines, missing the ball completely on the turn.
Richard Garcia looked to Chianese to put the game to bed off the bench and that's exactly what the substitute managed, combining with Carlo Armiento to provide a classy finish to the home side's third goal on the night.
Chianese collected the ball off the left wing, sized up Pierias before splitting both he and Victor Sánchez to bomb toward the 18-yard box. Chianese found Armiento's feet, who repaid the favour with a ball back toward his teammate who continued his run to bury a curling strike past Scott.
Western United v Sydney FC
Saturday, May 15 2021
Kick-off: 2.35pm AEST
Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers
Sunday, May 16 2021
Kick-off: 8.15pm AEST
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