Melbourne City have gone down in a nine-goal thriller at nib Stadium, coming from three goals down to fall short in the final round of the Hyundai A-League season.
The sides entered the break level as Diego Castro’s opener from the spot was cancelled out by Tim Cahill but it was a chaotic second half that stole the headlines.
Perth found themselves 4-1 up with Andy Keogh, Chris Harold and Nebojsa Marinkovic putting the Glory within a goal of securing a home final however the visitors flexed their muscle in front of goal, bringing the deficit back to 4-3 with Cahill and Nicolas Colazo finding the back of the net.
The Glory would secure the result through Adam Taggart but the story wasn’t over there as Nick Fitzgerald scored in an empty net to equal the league’s record for goals in a match.
The result confirms their final standing on the A-League ladder, finishing fourth and setting up an Elimination Final at home against the Glory on Sunday night.
Despite the home side looking overturn a four-goal deficit, it was City who began on the front foot, winning the first corner of the match after ten seconds.
The momentum switched after the opening minutes as the Glory pushed early numbers forward and were rewarded after five minutes.
Adam Taggart’s burst of speed saw the forward enter the penalty area with Neil Kilkenny in toe as the midfielder conceded a clumsy foul to open the door for Diego Castro from the spot.
The Glory’s marquee man made no mistake, netting his tenth penalty of the season and giving the home side the early momentum in their search to find a four goal margin.
It was City however that grabbed hold of the match and much of their joy was through the right wing as Bruce Kamau tormented Marc Warren with his movement on the ball.
His play set up the equaliser for City after a wonderfully worked pattern saw the winger cutback to Cahill after 21 minutes and the forward made no mistake with a convincing strike into the bottom corner that left Liam Reddy rooted to his spot.
City continued to ride the wave of momentum and had two major efforts just after the equaliser as a Bruno Fornaroli header and a Nicolas Colazo strike saw the visitors denied the lead.
The Glory thought they would have the last say on the half and it was Dean Bouzanis who was there to deny them. A driven set-piece from Castro saw Richard Garcia’s header goal-bound before the keeper would make a wonderful finger-tip save to push the midfielder’s effort over the bar.
The historic second half began with City on the front foot as they searched for the lead, looking to penetrate the Glory penalty area.
It was the Glory though who would move ahead as Keogh slotted his effort through the legs of Ivan Franjic, beating Bouzanis at his near post.
City looked to reply almost immediately as Fornaroli rocketed the crossbar and minutes later it was the hosts who would make it three.
Josh Risdon’s perfectly weighted cross found the head of substitute Chris Harold as he nodded home inside the six-yard box to give Perth hope of a home final.
Their hopes drew even closer when they went 4-1 up from Marinkovic’s free-kick on the edge of the area and City’s home final looked under threat with 15 minutes remaining.
However City continued to show their attacking prowess and thwarted the Glory’s hopes for moving into fourth spot as Cahill and Colazo found the back on the net in the space of four minutes.
The Glory would find a fifth through Taggart and then an inexplicable error from Liam Reddy opened the door from Nick Fitzgerald to notch City’s fourth on the night during a wild contest in the west.
The sides do it all again next week as they face each other again in the Elimination Final on Sunday night at AAMI Park, kick-off 7pm.
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