Victory denied in thriller


A desperate Perth Glory came from behind to snag a 3-2 upset win over Melbourne Victory in a gripping encounter on Saturday night.

A desperate Perth Glory came from behind to snag a 3-2 upset win over Melbourne Victory in a gripping encounter on Saturday night.

The hosts looked to have escaped with a draw when second-gamer Christopher Cristaldo equalised in the 89th minute after Glory had clung to a 2-1 lead for most of the second half.

But Glory substitute Josh Risdon left 16,839 fans at AAMI Park shell-shocked when he dramatically netted the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

The loss leaves Victory in danger of slipping to fourth on the table with one round of the regular season left, while for Perth Glory, their gutsy performance kept their Hyundai A-League finals hopes alive.

Missing international stars Mark Milligan, Marco Rojas and Archie Thompson, Victory showed they had plenty of improvement left in them with one regular-season round left before finals.

The more-experienced Perth team dictated terms against their unproven opponents, punishing Victory’s lack of intensity in closing players down.

While coach Ange Postecoglou would be delighted with his undermanned side’s lively second half, Perth’s midfield dominance for large chunks of the match would be cause for concern.

Victory went ahead on 13 minutes when Adrian Leijer slammed the ball past Perth gloveman Vukovic and into the back of the net with a powerful header from a corner.

But Victory’s advantage disappeared nine minutes later as Chris Harold improvised cleverly and cracked a sensational volley that hit the post before coming back in to find the back of the net.

The equaliser stunned the crowd and helped Glory take control of the first half.

Captain Travis Dodd cashed in on the rapid momentum shift in the 38th minute.

Courtesy of a brilliant cross from Ryo Nagai, the former Adelaide United sharpshooter slotted in at the centre of the box and rifled past goalkeeper Nathan Coe.

The Victory custodian was called upon three minutes later, but this time managed to palm away Nagai’s header from Liam Miller’s free kick.

The situation went from bad to worse in the minutes to half-time as Jesse Makarounas limped off with what appeared to be a serious hamstring strain and was replaced by Spase Dilevski.

Unfortunately it became a double injury blow after the break when the returning Marcos Flores aggravated the injury that had kept him sidelined for the previous two matches.

That handed youngster Cristaldo a taste of the action and despite the increasing greenness of the team, Victory managed to regain some ascendancy through improved possession.

That led to a string of attacking forays. The best of them was Billy Celeski’s driving shot that pounded into the chest of Vukovic, who made an expert save.

With 15 minutes left, the match lifted a gear and after peppering their goal front Victory levelled when Cristaldo fired home, brilliantly beating a stunned Vukovic.

But there was one more sensational twist left, and Risdon ensured it was a sour end to a night of fluctuating fortunes for the men in blue by sending a curling winner past a helpless Coe and into the net.

The result ended a run of draws over the past fortnight but means Victory take losing form into next week’s final-round fixture against bottom side Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Leijer 13, Cristaldo 89)
Perth Glory 3 (Harold 21, Dodd 38, Risdon 90+4)

Crowd: 16,839 @ AAMI Park, Melbourne