In the end, some sort of justice was served after Sydney FC pulled off a massive upset to be crowned A-League champions at Perth Glory’s expense.
Andrew Redmayne was the hero as the decider against the hometown favourites went to a chaotic penalty shootout. The yellow wiggle, as he’s been dubbed, danced on the line before saving Andy Keogh’s spot-kick.
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A devastated Brendon Santalab hit his straight into the hands of the Sky Blues goalkeeper with his final kick of the ball in professional football, before Reza Ghoochannejhad struck the decisive blow.
You could just about hear a pin drop at the capacity Optus Stadium as the air was sucked out and Perth Glory hearts shattered. And spare a thought for Tony Popovic — four grand finals, still yet to win one.
After such a dominant season, it was a cruel blow for the home side. But that’s not to take anything away from Steve Corica’s Sydney.
Reza Ghoochannejhad struck the winning penalty.Source: Getty Images
Riding on a high after last weekend’s demolition of Melbourne Victory, Sydney should have been on the scoresheet in the first half.
It was a fierce and physical battle that ended 0-0 at the break, and that’s how it remained at the end of extra time.
But the visitors were massively hard done by after being denied the opening goal in the first half.
PER v SYD: Match Highlights
Controversy struck in the 28th minute of the decider, when Michael Zullo was played in behind and put a ball in that Glory defender Matthew Spiranovic turned into his own net.
But the linesman raised his flag for offside and despite replays showing Zullo was in fact onside, the VAR opted not to reverse the decision.
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The call left Sky Blues coach Steve Corica absolutely fuming on the sideline. He had watched on as his side gradually got the upper hand over Perth, with Rhyan Grant and Milos Ninkovic in particular immense in the first half.
Ninkovic was everywhere, pulling the strings masterfully, while Grant was embroiled in a mighty battle with his Socceroos teammates Chris Ikonomidis and Jason Davidson.
Milos Ninkovic was named player of the match for his immense performance.Source: AAP
It was the home side who had the better of the first half opportunities, notably a header from Dino Djulbic that Andrew Redmayne just managed to tip over the bar.
Before that Joel Chianese, who surprisingly started in place of Andy Keogh, had a header that he steered just wide of the post.
As the Sky Blues began their ascendancy, the controversial offside call struck. Fortunately for Sydney, it wasn’t decisive.
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The drama played out in front of a record grand final crowd of 56,371 at Optus Stadium, which created a thrilling atmosphere at the venue.
There were some raised eyebrows regarding the decision to hold the decider at the oval ground, but the distance from stands to pitch has hardly detracted at all from the spectacle.
The downside, though, was the quality of the pitch. Hard and bumpy in the middle, the surface was clearly a challenging one for the players.
The Glory emerged with vigour after the break and Castro forced Redmayne into making a fine save with the maestro’s header seemingly destined for the top corner.
The home side had the better of the chances, with Sydney unable to manufacture any noteworthy shot on target as the match trickled to extra time.
That hardly mattered as the Sky Blues pulled off an incredible, memorable grand final win.
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