Perth Glory have added further weight to their Hyundai A-League title credentials with a stunning come-from-behind 2-1 win over Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Thursday night.
In a match that sprung to life after the break, Glory went behind to a controversial penalty converted by their former striker Shane Smeltz 12 minutes into the second half.
But a header by Rostyn Griffiths seven minutes from the end drew the visitor’s level before they were awarded a dubious penalty of their own, which was coolly converted by Andy Keogh.
The defeat was Sydney’s first of the season while Glory pull away at the top of the ladder after one of the better away wins in their history.
WHAT THEY SAID
"The boys have dug deep tonight, I think everyone was on their last legs. The boys are buzzing off that, we've worked so hard for it. The Club's done well, everyone's done well in the off-season to recruit the players we've got and now we're top of the table." - Glory midfielder Rostyn Griffiths
"Very tough (to take), we sort of went close there but we probably should have held on with the way we were playing. I think we were going in search for that second one and we were probably a bit naive in trying to push too much." - Sydney FC skipper Alex Brosque
1-0 Smeltz (57’) – A flowing Sydney attack ended with Smeltz firing in a shot from the edge of the box which crashed into the arm of Djulbic, with referee Alan Milliner controversially awarding a penalty. Smeltz took on the responsibility against his former club, chipping it down the middle to easily put it past a diving Danny Vukovic.
1-1 Griffiths (83’) – The Sky Blues switched off at a free-kick, Nebojsa Marinkovic’s pin-point delivery finding the head of an unmarked Griffiths who headed it past a stranded Vedran Janjetoviic from just six yards out.
1-2 Keogh (87’) – Left-back Scott Jamieson made a marauding run into the box, going down after a clumsy challenge by substitute Chris Naumoff. Keogh sent his spot-kick down the middle, the ball finding its way despite Janjetovic getting a boot to it.
Sydney had done a fairly good job of keeping Marinkovic quiet but the Serbian showed his class and importance to Glory’s side with a brilliant free-kick to help Griffiths draw the visitors level. It was a big turning point with Perth going on to snatch all three points via Keogh’s penalty a few minutes later.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Sydney missed the chance to equal their best-ever run of form of nine games unbeaten, which last happened almost eight years ago. While Glory have produced arguably their best win of the campaign to remain on top, they have managed to keep just one clean sheet now in their last 21 matches.
A lightning counter-attack from the Sky Blues saw Bernie Ibini race clear down the right wing. The winger cleverly cut the ball across goal to Terry Antonis who looked certain to slot it home from just 12 yards out but Vukovic pulled off an incredible one-handed save to push it wide and keep the score at 1-0 to the home side. It kept
Perth had dominated the hosts for most of the contest but fell behind to something very much out of their control. There was nothing Djulbic could do when Smeltz’s shot crashed into his arm from just a couple of yards away, but it was enough for referee Milliner to point to the spot, much to the disgust of Glory’s players and their boss Kenny Lowe.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Injury to Sasa Ognenovski and the suspension of Sebastian Ryall meant Matthew Jurman partnered Nikola Petkovic in the heart of Sydney’s defence. The pair are both left-footed and with Jurman forced to play on the right-hand side of the duo, he found it hard to play out from the back at times. The Glory exploited that and pressed hard whenever Jurman had the ball and won plenty of possession in the Sky Blues’ half. Terry Antonis also played in the ‘No.10’ but struggled to have the same impact he has had playing in s deeper position for much of the campaign.
THE FINAL WORD
Sydney FC have the luxury of a nine-day break before their next game which is a huge clash away to rivals Melbourne Victory. Glory host Newcastle Jets next Friday but will also have one eye on the Westfield FFA Cup final against Adelaide United just a few days later.
Sydney FC: Janjetovic, Bojic, Jurman (Carle 88’), Petkovic, Gersbach, Antonis, Dimitrijevic, Ibini, Grant (Naumoff 73’), Brosque, Smeltz
Perth Glory: Vukovic, Risdon, Djulbic, Thwaite, Jamieson, Griffiths, Garcia (Zadkovich 74’), Nichols, Marinkovic, De Silva (Harold 66’), Keogh (Maclaren 90+2’)
Scorers: Smeltz 57’, Griffiths 83’, Keogh 87’
Red cards: none
Yellow cards: Djulbic 56’, Nichols 66’
Conditions: 25C, Dry
Attendance: 11,280 @ Allianz Stadium