Perth Glory have blown the opportunity to host a home final next weekend after slumping to a 4-0 defeat to a 10-man Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.
Kenny Lowe’s side not only missed the chance to make it a club record six straight wins but will now have to travel to play Melbourne City in next weekend’s do-or-die Elimination Final.
Staring at a club-record 12th straight game without a win, the Sky Blues fired up and took control thanks to first-half goals to David Carney and Filip Holosko.
Holosko then blotted his copybook with 12 minutes left when he received his marching orders for a second bookable offence, but there was still time for Ali Abbas and Milos Ninkovic to add icing to the cake late on.
It was a diabolical showing by Glory with so much to play for and they will have to pick themselves up quickly.
1-0 Carney (31’) – A Sydney attack looked over when Filip Holosko was dispossessed in the box. But Shane Lowry’s clearance pinballed off Carney and Alex Grant before landing back at the feet of the Sydney attacker to slide it in under Ante Covic.
2-0 Holosko (36’) – The Slovak picked up possession about 35 yards from goal and drove straight at the heart of the defence. He burst between Lowry and Grant into the box, cutting back inside the latter before making no mistake with his finish from about eight yards out.
3-0 Abbas (84’) – With Glory chasing the game, Sydney hit on the counter with Abbas overlapping down the left before cutting inside Dino Djulbic and drilling a powerful shot in the bottom corner.
4-0 Ninkovic (90+1’) – Another Sydney counter with Andrew Hoole breaking free on the right and squaring the ball to Ninkovic for a simple tap-in.
In an opening half hour of few chances, the best of them fell to Glory from a corner on 17 minutes. The ball came to Andy Keogh at the far post and he got up well to head it back across the face of goal.
It made its way to Grant just a couple of metres from goal who got his head on it as well but luckily for the home side the ball went straight at Vedran Janjetovic.
It was a costly miss for the visitors with Sydney taking the lead soon after.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
*The win was Sydney FC’s first against a non-NSW team this season. Their last win against an out of town side came against Adelaide United in the finals last season.
*This was the first time in the last seven games between these two in Sydney that the score hasn’t finished 2-1 to either side.
Holosko’s scintillating and positive run through Glory’s defence for his goal was pure class.
Glory has been resolute at the back since Lowry came into the side but their defending for Sydney’s opening two goals was poor.
There was no urgency as well as a lack of composure which made it easy for the Sky Blues to capitalise. It’s defending that definitely won’t have coach Kenny Lowe in a good mood heading into the Finals Series.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Glory were without playmaker Diego Castro – who has been a sensation this season – and it clearly showed in a flat and at times rudderless display.
While his absence is believed to be only precautionary due to muscle tightness, if Castro is missing in the Finals Series, Glory will need to cope without him much better than they did on Sunday.
THE FINAL WORD
While there’s no finals for Sydney FC, they did at least finish a disappointing campaign with a bang and give their fans something to cheer about. It’s all about the AFC Champions League for Graham Arnold’s side now, with a massive game at home to Urawa Red Diamonds on April 20.
Glory only have themselves to blame for missing out on a home final. Their performance smacked of a side that had one eye on next weekend and not this fixture.
Castro’s return will make them a formidable force in the finals but how much will they rue having to travel instead of play at home?
Sydney FC: Janjetovic (gk), Calver, Ryall (c), Jurman, Abbas, Dimitrijevic, O’Neill, Holosko, Blackwood (Ninkovic 77’), Carney (Hoole 82’), Simon
Perth Glory: Covic (gk), Risdon (c), Lowry, Grant, Warren, Vadocz, Sandor, Reiners (Djulbic 77’), Marinkovic, Garcia (Petratos 74’), Keogh
Scorers: Carney 31’, Holosko 36’, Abbas 84’, Ninkovic 90+1’
Red cards: Holosko 78'
Yellow cards: Warren 22’, Holosko 55’, Calver 63’, Simon 65’, Lowry 70’, Holosko 78’
Conditions: 24C, Fine
Attendance: 8717 @ Allianz Stadium