Glory’s season ended by Sydney FC
Perth Glory has exited the 2019-20 A-League Finals series at the semi-final stage, defeated 2-0 by premiers Sydney FC at Bankwest Stadium on Wednesday night.
Both goals came in the opening half, Perth with opportunities to score after half time but unable to capitalise and work their way back in to the game.
Perth were looking to become the first team in A-League history to qualify for the Grand Final from sixth spot, having defeated Wellington Phoenix in their elimination final last Saturday to set up a 2018-19 Grand Final rematch against the sky blues.
Milos Ninkovic opened the account for Sydney with a clinical finish in the 24th minute, Paulo Retre’s through ball cannoning off the legs off Perth defender Tarek Elrich and landing invitingly into the path of Ninkovic, the Serbian star not needing a second invitation to shoot and stroking it calmly into the Glory net.
Adam Le Fondre doubled the goal scoring tally four minutes later, Glory goalkeeper Liam Reddy making an error in goal coming off his line only to lose control of the ball outside of the box, Le Fondre capitalising to put the sky blues in a strong position.
Steve Corica’s men had more than 70% of possession in the opening half, the Glory staring down the barrel at an underwhelming exit.
Ivan Franjic, elimination final hero Joel Chianese and Bruno Fornaroli all missed second half chances to put pressure on Sydney, Fornaroli’s shot bouncing off both posts in the 74th minute.
It would remain a 2-0 scoreline come the final whistle, meaning the minor premiers will defend their crown against Melbourne City on Sunday, who also won their semi-final 2-0 over Melbourne City.
Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic was quick to praise his opponents after the match.
"Congratulations to Sydney FC for making the Final," he said.
"They started very well.
"I thought we withstood some of the pressure early, but they seemed very fresh and a very aggressive at the start and we didn't really match that aggression.
"We came into the game in the last 15 minutes [of the first-half] when it was already 2-0 and we continued that in the second, but the difference was that they were clinical.
"We probably had the best chance in the game just after half-time and we were in the ascendancy but it just wouldn't fall for us and then Bruno had that shot which hit both posts with 15-odd minutes to go.
"So we didn't have the luck and it would have been nice if we'd got one then to see how it would have finished up.
"The effort was excellent and I can't complain about that or the character they showed to come back.
"I thought it was outstanding."
The A-League Grand Final will be played on Sunday at BankWest Stadium, with kick-off at 4:30 WST (6:30 EST)
IMAGE: SBS The World Game.