Relentless Wanderers flatten Perth to go one win off top spot
Two goals to Mitchell Duke on either side of half time helped Western Sydney Wanderers cruise past Perth Glory in a well-deserved 3-0 win for the home side at Bankwest Stadium.
The Wanderers saw two strikes to Bernie Ibini and a Kosuke Ota own goal all ruled out for offside in the opening 33 minutes of play but refused to let frustration settle in, mounting attack after attack on Perth's defence which ultimately led to Duke's opener in first-half stoppage time.
The Wanderers talisman emphasised his impact after the break, showing deft skill and speed to take a Keanu Baccus through ball down, blitz through a scattered Perth defence and fire his second goal past Liam Reddy.
James Troisi wrapped up all three points just minutes later, ambling in to tap home into an unmarked net. The offside flag went up to disallow a fourth Wanderers goal, before VAR revoked the decision to hand the hosts their third of the night.
An impressive Wanderers defensive display led by the committed efforts of Ziggy Gordon helped keep Perth off the scoresheet to the final whistle. The three points take Western Sydney into outright ownership of second place on the A-League table, just one win off Central Coast Mariners at the very top.
Perth began the contest in the driver's seat as Bruno Fornaroli and Nick D'Agostino threatened to give the visitors an early advantage. Fornaroli's fifth-minute shot was tipped off target from Daniel Margush, and minutes later D'Agostino's angled an attempt toward the bottom-left corner which flashed just wide of the mark.
Diego Castro's one-two with Andy Keogh produced another chance to Perth on 21 minutes, but the Spaniard's shot lacked the curl to find the top-right corner.
Bernie Ibini had called Liam Reddy into an early reflex save in the goal mouth, in what was to become a busy opening 45 for the Wanderers striker.
Shortly after Castro's miss down one end Ibini found the back of the net down the other, connecting with Daniel Wilmering's through ball and sliding a shot past Reddy. VAR intervened to adjudge Ibini marginally offside when receiving Wilmering's pass, in the first of three goals to be ruled out for offside in the opening stanza.
Reddy sent another close-range Ibini strike away from danger before the Red and Black number nine got in behind to score once more, tentatively brushing a shot into the back of the net before looking up to see the flag raised for offside, and the score remained at 0-0.
A Wanderers strike force led by Ibini and Duke was beginning to experience a lot of joy against a Glory side intent on keeping a high line, and just after the half-hour mark the Red and Black netted for the third time in the contest when Kosuke Ota played the ball past Reddy as he tried to contain a lethal Wilmering cross.
The home fans rejoiced, but were frustrated once more by yet another offside call - this time on Wilmering in the build-up - as a third first-half goal was wiped off the scoresheet.
Despite all their frustrations the Wanderers pressed on, unwilling to accept half-time parity. Deep into stoppage time Duke finally broke the deadlock, heading Troisi's well-weighted cross floated to the back post into the back of the net. No offside flag and no VAR intervention were to follow, as the Red and Black took a one-goal lead to the sheds.
The Wanderers pierced Perth's defensive line with pace and invasive passes time and again in the first half, and after the break Richard Garcia's side took the same approach which led to an early onslaught from the hosts.
Duke scored his second two minutes into the second 45, taking Baccus' lofted through ball down and surging past Luke Bodnar into space. Reddy got a palm on Duke's shot but the ball curled into the back of the net as the hosts began to see reward for their efforts.
In first-half stoppage time, the Wanderers had three disallowed goals in a goalless draw. By the 50th minute they held a 3-0 lead.
Glory's thinly-spread defence were exposed once again for the third goal, which Troisi walked over the goal line after Ibini's challenge with Reddy sent the ball spilling to his feet. Ibini looked certain to score himself when running into yet another one-on-one with Perth's 'keeper but made difficult work of the chance.
The offside flag was raised as Troisi dribbled the ball home, but another VAR intervention worked out in Western Sydney's favour as the decision was overturned to help sew up a 3-0 win for the hosts.
Perth Glory v Sydney FC
Wednesday, March 24 2021
Kick-off: 9.20pm AEDT
Melbourne City v Western Sydney Wanderers
Friday, March 26 2021
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