Sydney FC entered the A-League finals comfortably on top of the table but reeling from a five-game winless streak.
Then they turned back the clock with a dominant performance reminiscent of their barnstorming start to the season in which they claimed 15 wins from the first 18 matches.
The Sky Blues saw off sixth-place Perth Glory 2-0, handing the reigning Champions a shot at a third A-League title in four years in Sunday’s Grand Final.
In a repeat of the 2019 A-League Grand Final, Sydney FC saw off Perth Glory courtesy of two first-half goals in the space of five minutes.
It means Sydney will face second-place Melbourne City on Sunday night in a blockbuster affair, with Sydney hoping to claim a record FIFTH league crown.
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Keeper BLOOPER costs Glory!
Perth, the 2019 Premiers, have suffered a disappointing season compared to the 2019 campaign – even more so since the competition’s restart, with the absence of star forward Diego Castro proving critical.
And things got off to a woeful start in the semi-final, with Sydney dominating possession and territory in the opening exchanges – even having a staggering 95% of the ball in the first five minutes.
They continued to look the more dangerous of the sides throughout the first half an hour, with Sydney number 10 Milos Ninkovic asserting the side’s dominance by calmly burying the opening goal in the 24th minute.
A hopeful ball into the box deflected off defender Tarek Elrich and directly into the path of Ninkovic, with the technical midfielder calmly passing the ball into the net.
Things soon went from bad to catastrophic for Glory, when keeper Liam Reddy was caught napping after a dangerous back-pass put him under pressure.
Inside his own box, Reddy turned and failed to clear the ball as Sydney striker Adam le Fondre slid in and poked the ball into the net, making it 2-0 after 28 minutes.
Perth would never recover, their relative lack of depth on the bench hurting them as Sydney remained largely in control of the contest into the second stanza despite a much-improved performance after the break.
Sydney raring for semi-final
Bruno Fornaroli went closest for Perth, a 75th minute drive from an extremely tight angle hitting both the front post then the rear post, with keeper Andrew Redmayne beaten.
And Joel Chianese – Perth’s scorer in their 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix in the Elimination Final – fluffed a chance when through on goal.
But Glory largely failed to fashion clear goalscoring opportunities, with Fornaroli tasked with the majority of the creative work on the edge of the box and Perth clearly missing the influence of Castro.
Sydney’s win snapped a nightmare five-game winless streak – and the Sky Blues threw out the form book in a vintage performance.
Earlier on Wednesday, Melbourne City ended Western United’s fairytale debut campaign with a 2-0 win in the other semi-final.
Socceroo Jamie Maclaren continued in the impetuous goalscoring form that earned him the season’s golden boot, scoring from the penalty spot before a late own goal sent City to their first grand final in club history.
Victory on Sunday would make Sydney only the second team to go back-to-back in A-League history, after Brisbane’s consecutive Championships in 2011 and 2012.