The Sky Blues secured fifth place with a scrappy victory over Perth, setting up an elimination final against arch-rivals Melbourne Victory
Sydney FC edged into the Hyundai A-League finals for the first time in two years with a barely-deserved 2-1 win over Perth Glory.
A last-minute winner from Richard Garcia gave Sydney all three points and set up a meeting with traditional rivals Melbourne Victory, rather than a match-up with Central Coast Mariners.
A superb first half strike from Terry Antonis had earlier settled nerves for the home side, but Rostyn Griffiths equalised on the stoke of half-time.
Sydney needed only to avoid defeat by two goals but they were on the back foot for much of the second half with Newcastle Jets hoping to claim the final top-six berth.
Sydney started in surprisingly sluggish fashion on a bumpy Allianz Stadium. And it was the Glory, with little but pride to pay for, who fashioned the first opening with striker Chris Harold firing a sharp effort narrowly past Vedran Janjetovic's post.
Alessandro Del Piero, in what many predict will be his final home match for the Sky Blues, whizzed a free-kick narrowly wide of the goal from an unlikely angle near the sideline.
Serbian midfielder Milos Dimitrijevic perhaps came closer than any of his team-mates to breaking the deadlock in the opening half with a 20-metre snapshot.
In truth the home side played without urgency and rarely looked like breaking the deadlock until Antonis released the pressure valve seven minutes before the interval with a strike of rare quality from 30 metres that gave goalkeeper Jack Duncan no chance.
Seb Ryall forced Duncan into a smart save with a fierce shot from an acute angle in the final minutes of the half, with the Sky Blues seemingly buoyed by getting on the scoresheet.
However it was Perth conjured an equaliser with virtually the last action of the half as Griffiths finished at the back post after being gifted the chance with the home side falling asleep defending a corner.
Del Piero seemed set to restore the Sky Blues' lead soon after the break but Duncan somehow blocked his near point-blank stabbed effort.
Perth dominated second-half possession in a sometimes scrappy encounter but gilt-edged goalscoring openings remained at a premium.
The Glory, who were hoping to send off the retiring Jacob Burns in style, were undone by a sucker-punch as Garcia latched onto a through ball to score the winner with virtually the last kick of the match.