Perth Glory have secured a dramatic 1-1 draw with Adelaide United at nib Stadium on Saturday in a result that takes them into the final six at the expense of Sydney FC
|By NEIL SHERWIN
Adrian Zahra's first goal in a Perth Glory shirt helped secure the club's spot in the Hyundai A-League finals series as they drew 1-1 with Adelaide United in a thrilling conclusion on Saturday night.
With Glory needing only a draw to pip Sydney FC to sixth place on the ladder, a packed nib Stadium was understandably edgy throughout, and a Jake Barker-Daish equaliser for the Reds in the final minute of normal time made things interesting right up to the final whistle.
Adelaide had the chance to claim all three points in the fourth minute of added time as Dario Vidosic lined up a free kick, but when Danny Vukovic beat away his goalbound effort with the final act of the night, Perth's position in the play-offs for a second consecutive year was assured.
Earlier in the match, both side created several half chances, with Eugene Galekovic denying Ryo Nagai with a smart save at one end while Bruce Djite headed over for Adelaide from a corner at the other.
Glory were given a big opportunity to open the scoring after 25 minutes when Nagai was tripped by Cameron Watson in the box after latching on to a great through ball from Steve McGarry.
However the Japanese winger was unable to beat Galekovic from the spot as the goalkeeper continued his great run of form to push the effort on to the post.
Nagai was heavily involved minutes later, shooting over and wide in quick succession as the home side continued to enjoy the territorial advantage.
Adelaide struggled to get going in the middle of the park, with Glory trio of Jacob Burns, Matias Cordoba and McGarry breaking up play at every opportunity.
The second period followed the same pattern as the first as the hosts showed all the initiative and were almost rewarded in the 53rd minute as Zahra shot wide from just outside the six-yard box after taking down a cross from stand-in striker Dean Heffernan.
The youngster made amends minutes later, though, when he was on hand to score from a low driven cross from McGarry as the ball crossed the line despite the best efforts of Galekovic.
The visitors tried to find a way back into the game, however they were left to try their luck from long range as substitute Jeronimo Neumann fired harmlessly over the crossbar.
Both McGarry and substitute Daniel De Silva could have put the game out of sight in the closing stages but neither could find the net from close range.
As the game headed into injury time, Barker-Daish levelled things up with a low drive from 12 yards and Vidosic could have spoiled the party with the very last kick of the game but Vukovic was equal his efforts.