A flat Western Sydney Wanderers were made to pay for a contentious blow just before half-time in Saturday night’s loss to Perth Glory, according to coach Tony Popovic.
The Wanderers conceded in stoppage-time at the end of either half at nib Stadium to lose 2-0 to the in-form Glory.
The defeat comes at the end of a roller-caster week for the Wanderers, who won the Sydney Derby seven days earlier but also copped a heavy 4-0 loss to Urawa Reds in the ACL on Tuesday night.
Popovic conceded his side’s heavy schedule didn’t help their performance in the west.
“We didn’t look physically at our best today,” the Wanderers boss said.
“But credit to the opponents, they made it difficult for us, they seemed to be quicker to the ball, more aggressive and they won a lot of those 50-50 challenges that we did so well last week against Sydney with. Today we lacked that.
“We could never really get a hold of the game. Perth made it very difficult.”
It was only some amazing last-ditch defending and a few superb saves from keeper Vedran Janjetovic which kept the Wanderers on level terms heading into first-half stoppage-time.
But the game swung in Perth’s favour when Chris Harold’s deflected strike from Diego Castro’s free-kick snuck inside Janjetovic’s post.
While admitting Glory was the better team, Popovic lamented that goal from a free-kick just before the break, awarded despite left-back Shannon Cole appearing to win the ball cleanly.
“Overall we didn’t do enough to win the game. In the end Perth was the deserved winner,” Popovic said.
“We came stronger in the second half but we couldn’t make the most of those opportunities to get ourselves back on level terms.
“Conceding right on half-time was a blow. Firstly it wasn’t a free-kick, the challenge was legit but it was given. It was a deflected goal. It was a soft goal overall and not a good time to concede.”The Wanderers head straight from Perth to China for Tuesday night’s crucial ACL clash with Shanghai SIPG against the likes of Brazilian superstars Hulk and Oscar.