Sydney snatches victory
Two John Aloisi goals – one bizarre and highly controversial – have given Sydney FC a pulsating 3-2 win over Perth Glory at Parramatta Stadium and kept the heat on league leaders Melbourne right until the last day of the regular season.
Two John Aloisi goals - one bizarre and highly controversial - have given Sydney FC a pulsating 3-2 win over Perth Glory at Parramatta Stadium and kept the heat on league leaders Melbourne right until the last day of the regular season.
Aloisi struck just after half-time and three minutes from the end to secure a precious three points for the Sky Blues, who host Victory in a last-round blockbuster next Sunday.
Melbourne heads the table on 47 points from Sydney (45) and Gold Coast (44), who lost to Wellington on Sunday night.
It was hearts in mouths stuff for the crowd of 8359 in Sydney's west as the home side twice saw it lead snatched away by the gutsy visitors.
Steve Corica scored from the spot after 24 minutes but was furious when his side's advantage was erased in the shadows of half-time by Wayne Srhoj.
Aloisi restored the lead in the 49th minute, albeit in contentious circumstances, before Glory again equallised through Daniel McBreen with 11 minutes remaining.
Aloisi's headed goal in the 87th minute saw the one-time crowd villain hailed the hero on a day of drama and tension.
His first goal was initially cancelled out by the referee amid much confusion.
Aloisi's mis-hit shot wobbled slowly towards the goal before being cleared on the line by Perth's Chris Coyne - only for the ball to sail through a gap in the side netting.
Referee Chris Beath signalled a corner as Sydney players surrounded him in protest.
Beath then consulted his assistant linesman before overturning his decision, ruling the ball had crossed the line.
It was then Perth's turn to protest as Sydney FC officials and Parramatta Stadium groundstaff repaired the loose net.
A reasonable sized crowd on a gloomy afternoon saw Sydney put the foot down from the start against a Perth side missing a host of first team regulars.
The hosts carved out several opportunities early, although Terry McFlynn's bicycle kick from outside the box after three minutes was big on optimism and little else.
Aloisi fashioned a more straightforward chance on 15 minutes but dragged his left-foot shot wide of the right post.
It was then Karol Kisel's turn to go close, his free kick just shaving the left post with Glory keeper Aleks Vrteski at full stretch.
A breakthrough seemed inevitable and so it was.
Twenty two minutes in Alex Brosque had a goal-bound attempt cleared off the line by Scott Neville's header.
It proved a temporary let off as Shannon Cole collected the rebound and made his way back into the box, only to be brought down by Todd Howarth for a clear-cut penalty.
Corica drove his attempt straight down the middle and the terraces erupted.
The Sky Blues appeared certain to take their 1-0 lead into the break but Perth struck deep into injury time to silence the home fans.
Andrija Jukic laid off a ball for Srhoj to hit a sweet first-time shot from the semi-circle of the penalty area.
Sydney goalkeeper Clint Bolton, perhaps unsighted by the congestion inside the box, was slightly slow to move as the ball squeezed past his near post to leave it locked 1-1 at the break.
Aloisi's goal just after the interval lost much of its value when McBreen slid in at the back post to knock in Scott Bulloch's cross on 79 minutes.
But the former World Cup star had the finally say, directing his far post header past a stranded Vrteski to clinch all three points.
Sydney FC 3 (Corica 24p, Aloisi 49, 87) Perth Glory 2 (Srhoj 45, McBreen 79)