EletiofeA-League semi-finals: Melbourne City 2-0 Western United; Sydney FC...

A-League semi-finals: Melbourne City 2-0 Western United; Sydney FC v Perth Glory – live!


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58 mins: Speculative shot from Caceres from outside the box is well held by Reddy. Sydney are passing their way from one end to the other with unobtrusive regularity.

57 mins: Sydney continue to probe though – Le Fondre down the left, Ninkovic darting into the box, keeping Glory’s defence on its toes and the ball a long way from Redmayne’s goal. That 2-0 lead looks more than enough right now.

55 mins: Perth are more fluid in possession with Juande in midfield, but there remains a lack of guile in the final third. On a few occasions this half the ball has gone forward at pace, only to be shifted wide to the right to Franjic for a standing-start cross that is easy to read.

At the other end Sky Blue shirts are darting every which way and a chance would have emerged but for a poor decision from Barbarouses.

53 mins: Tratt’s dodgy start continues with a yellow card for a blatant tug on Le Fondre’s shirt in transition.

52 mins: Sydney’s neat ball-players have dovetailed well tonight, Caceres among them, and they make some neat triangles down the right, forcing Perth’s defence to be on guard for a number of phases before one pass too many goes long.

49 mins: Tratt’s first act is to slice a rank clearance with the outside of his left boot that almost lets in Barbarouses. Le Fondre then gets a good sniff of goal but Elrich executes a perfect sliding challenge. Then at the other end Chianese is sent through by Fornaroli, only for the elimination final goalscorer to steer his shot wide! Replays suggest he’d have been flagged for offside had it gone in, but still…

46 mins: Perth start the half brightly, moving the ball neatly from back to front but when they reach the edge of the box Wilkinson stands his ground and robs Fornaroli one-on-one.

I’m not going to lie, I’m flagging a bit. I had a hot chocolate between matches but now I’m having a bit of a comedown. There better not be extra-time.

Anyway, the teams are out ready for the second half. And Perth have made a change, Tratt is on for Malik, which means Juande will, belatedly, push up into midfield.

We are in an era of golden oldies.

andrew howe

Oldest finals series starting teams (average age):

32.2yrs Perth Glory – 2019 semi final v AU

32.0yrs Perth Glory #SYDvPER

31.9yrs Perth Glory – 2019 grand final

31.4yrs Bris Roar – 2018 elim final

30.9yrs Sydney FC – 2018 semi final

August 26, 2020

andrew howe

SYD aren’t far behind (30.4y avg). #SYDvPER the 3rd oldest starting 22 players for any Aus national league game. Oldest five games (avg age):

31.69y PER v SYD 23-Nov-19

31.23y WUN v PER 19-Oct-19

31.19y #SYDvPER

31.09y SYD v BRI 17-Mar-18

31.01y PER v SYD 19-May-19 (grand final)

August 26, 2020


Half-time: Sydney FC 2-0 Perth Glory

Sydney have one foot in the grand final. Hard to see Perth dragging this one out of the fire based on that first-half performance and what is at Popovic’s disposal on the bench.

Liam Reddy

Liam Reddy endured a horror moment as Sydney FC went 2-0 up. Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

45 mins: Turnover in midfield, but when Brimmer looks up there’s nobody to turn to. Eventually Franjic offers support on the right but there aren’t enough bodies in the box for his cross to cause any danger. Glory do well to keep the ball alive as Sydney drop into a low block, but that takes all the sting out of the threat. This is going to be a struggle for Tony Popovic. He doesn’t have the cattle to pick through Sydney’s defence, but neither does there seem a willingness to commit bodies forward in transition.

43 mins: Brimmer, then Juande, could both go into the book, and the latter does for a heavy challenge on Barbarouses that was signposted like the Hollywood hills.

40 mins: More superb hustle from Sydney forces Perth into an error near their own area. From the initial turnover Barbarouses overhits his lay-off to the onrushing Ninkovic, but the clearance doesn’t go far before Brattan is fouled. The free-kick, in shooting range, is absolutely horrible. Instead of going for goal there’s an intricate routine that does not come off.

39 mins: Better from Perth, zipping the ball around on the edge of the box until Franjic wraps his boot around it and sends over a cross that McGowan defuses effectively, if unconventionally, on his knees.

37 mins: Perth have threatened from set-pieces and from another Kilkenny corner they win the first header, allowing Malik a snapshot from the penalty spot, but it lacks power and Sydney escape.

35 mins: The past ten minutes or so have been characterised by the press of Sydney’s front three. It forced the second goal, and it has raised the tempo, making Perth’s defenders and keeper jittery. That urgency should fashion a decent opportunity but Le Fondre slipper trying to turn quickly on this difficult surface.

33 mins: Ninkovic is great, isn’t he? One of those footballers who improves when you’re pitchside and really able to appreciate his movement off the ball and how good his one-touch passing is. That said, I wish he’d get a haircut that he didn’t have to keep swishing from one side of his forehead to the other every second minute.

30 mins: That only gets worse for Reddy the more you look at it. He has a touch, then a second to shift it out of his feet, seemingly oblivious to the threat.

Meanwhile Retre is booked for hauling down Brimmer after the former Liverpool man picked the former Melbourne Victory man’s pocket. The resulting free-kick is swung in dangerously and requires a Retre header to flick the ball away from Juande. The corner that follows is headed clear, but only as far as Franjic just inside the box and he goes the full Tommy Deng but misses the target by a country mile.

GOAL! Sydney FC 2-0 Perth Glory (Le Fondre, 28)

Oh dear, poor Liam Reddy. Long ball into the right corner from Sydney that looks to be no harm whatsoever but Barbarouses chases down the lost cause, forcing a pass back to the Perth keeper, but he doesn’t control instantly, inviting Le Fondre to continue the hunt, and the Englishman then leaps into a tackle and toe-pokes the ball softly into the empty net with Reddy, well, red-faced.

Hyundai A-League

August 26, 2020

Liam Reddy

Liam Reddy isn’t the only thing in the back of the net. Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images


27 mins: Sydney continue to press, and a teasing ball form Brattan has to be turned behind by Franjic for a corner. Nothing comes of it.

26 mins: That will be good for the spectacle, open things up a bit.

GOAL! Sydney FC 1-0 Perth Glory (Ninkovic, 24)

Out of nowhere Sydney are ahead. Retre pushes the ball into the box towards the feet of Le Fondre that Mrcela should intercept. All he can manage is a toe-end and that ricochets off Elrich and into the path of the fortunate Ninkovic who keeps his cool and sidefoots beyond Reddy.

Hyundai A-League

August 26, 2020


22 mins: When the ball is in dispute there’s plenty of commitment from both teams to win it back, but once possession has been established the pace disappears and one side is happy to stroke the ball around while the other drops off.

20 mins: Ooooh! Unlucky Sydney. Le Fondre does well to dink over a cross with his left foot. The first header is cleared, but only as far as Caceres, who volleys left-footed on the edge of the six-yard box and he can only hit Juande when the goal was begging, Best chance of the match so far, but the finish lacked conviction.

18 mins: Sydney are defending as deep as they dare to lengthen the pitch, they’re also playing out from the back bravely to make sure they’re using every inch of Bankwest Stadium. Still they can’t piece their way beyond the Popovic web.

16 mins: Scrappy few passages of play in midfield. The high tempo of the regular season has been replaced by the cagey cat-and-mouse of finals.

14 mins: Glory are now starting to get their foot on the ball, stringing a few passes together in midfield with Kilkenny involved orchestrating things. Fornaroli then does well to time the ball in behind for Brimmer to run on to at pace, but his cutback is blocked.

12 mins: Sydney still on top here, and they’re committing more bodies than usual to their phases of possession. It’s still pretty stodgy though with Perth defending in numbers and happy to just take the sting out of the contest.

9 mins: Unpopular opinion, that may haunt me – as good a player as Fornaroli is, I’m unconvinced he’s an asset to many teams. His style of play since his serious injury completely dictates his side’s attacking set up, and without rapid pace around him everything feels very formulaic and predictable. He’s not going to beat anybody for pace, but his standing means he’s going to be offered every opportunity to shoot, regardless of teammates in better situations.

6 mins: And almost the same route to goal generates almost the same outcome, except this time it’s Ninkovic forcing the nearpost save and Caceres delivering the cutback.

Perth have hardly touched the ball, and don’t seem remotely bothered about it, focussed almost entirely on retaining their defensive shape. Their out-ball is the clearance to Fornaroli, in the hope of buying a foul around halfway. After losing the physical battle on a couple of occasions the Uruguayan is eventually handed the advantage by Alex King the referee.

4 mins: This is walking football. Like a prize fight with both sluggers just shadow boxing to get their heart rates up.

Until it isn’t! And as soon as the pace is upped Sydney almost score. Brattan and Caceres link well down the right and the former gets to the byline and makes the cutback for Barbarouses to peel off a snapshot from a narrow angle that Reddy does well to smother.

2 mins: Sydney just passing it amongst themselves for two minutes like it’s a really big, really slow rondo. Liven up fellas.

Peeeeeeeeeeep! (II)

Semi-final two is underway. Who will take on Melbourne City on Sunday?

Out come Perth, top to toe in purple. And they’re joined by Sydney in their sky blue jerseys with navy trim.

And what’s that? Some authentic crowd noise in the background! Huzzah! A few thousand socially distanced Sydney fans are in Bankwest Stadium, and they are making a welcome racket.

This is a lovely bit of trivia.

Brenton Speed

Did you know – the @ALeague kicked off 15 years ago today – and two blokes who featured that night about to fight it out for a 2020 Grand Final spot. Alex Wilkinson v Liam Reddy #SYDvPER

August 26, 2020

Hamish Neal

Lachlan Wales must look like a teen YouTuber I’ve never heard of? Surely… https://t.co/x6ZqiVTVIp

August 26, 2020

I know I’m old and out of touch, but Wales’ hair since the restart has been gopping.

Kilkenny on the other hand, and his resemblance to Rob Brydon, I wonder if he could find Diego Castro in the WA bush and reenact The Trip?

Perth only have three men in their starting XI under 30, and two of those (Malik and Mrcela) hit that milestone in a few weeks. Jake Brimmer, at 22, is the odd man out.

James McGrath

Don’t have to run much to park the bus, I guess.

August 26, 2020



Look forward to Glory defeating Sydney on penalties 👌

August 26, 2020

Nooooooooo! No extra-time, and no penalties please! It’s already close to my bedtime.

Perth Glory XI

Two changes for Perth Glory with the experienced James Meredith preferred to Dane Ingham at left wingback, and Osama Malik replacing Kristian Popovic in a switch that will see Juande return to midfield after being press-ganged into defence against Wellington.

In contrast to the options at Corica’s disposal, Tony Popovic doesn’t have much to turn to on his bench if he wants to shake things up.

Perth Glory FC

A berth in the ⁦@ALeague⁩ Grand Final 2020 is on the line – bring on the Sky Blues!#SYDvPER #OneGlory pic.twitter.com/RKNxBxQ06U

August 26, 2020

Sydney FC XI

Two names stand out in Sydney’s starting XI: Joel King, the teenager in for the injured Michale Zullo at fullback, and Anthony Caceres, preferred to Alex Baumjohann in attacking midfield. Steve Corica told Fox Sports Caceres’ selection was based on form since the restart.

Handy bench at Corica’s disposal, with Buhagiar’s pace and Ivanovic’s fearlessness alongside Baumjohann’s class.

Sydney FC

LINEUP | Here’s how your Sky Blues shape up for tonight’s Semi-Final clash!

What do you make of the squad?#SydneyIsSkyBlue #Premi4rs #OneDown #SYDvPER pic.twitter.com/ktBf3hcH3u

August 26, 2020

Kick-off is 8.10pm (thank God there was no extra-time in semi one) which means there’s time to read Simon Hill’s scene setter about the historic importance of Sydney FC’s campaign.

Don’t forget to drop me a line if you’re following along. Perth Glory are keeping an eye on things, and they’re clearly* the greatest team in the A-League.

Perth Glory FC

Not trying to influence your live-blogging in anyway, Jonathan, but great to have you on board tonight!

💜 #SYDVPER #OneGlory

August 26, 2020

*They may not be the greatest team in the A-League, but I am easily bought.

Sydney FC v Perth Glory – Preamble

Now for semi-final number two…

Based on the ladder this shouldn’t even be a contest. Sydney had the premiership sewn up by about round eight (they won 15 of their opening 18 matches!) while Perth only snuck into the finals by a point, taking only 13 out of a possible 39 points since the middle of January.

But Glory, in the image of their coach, are nothing if not resilient. They executed their gameplan superbly against Wellington in their elimination final, and can now head into tonight’s contest as dangerous underdogs. You can be certain Popovic has a tailor made strategy for the Sky Blues too, and despite being undermanned and lacking fluidity going forward, you wouldn’t bet against another upset.

Neil Kilkenny will be of great significance to Perth tonight. The leader and organiser in midfield, it will be his job to make sure Sydney’s schemers are denied time and space in dangerous areas. He is also responsible for set-pieces, which may prove to be his side’s best route of attack in a game tin which hey’re likely to be on the back for long periods.

While a strong case can now be made for Perth’s progress, if Sydney turn up it really shouldn’t be a contest. For four years they’ve been the competition’s benchmark, recruiting smartly, planning for the medium-term, and applying a clear methodology to their football. From back to front they are unit tailored to win A-League matches, with the only concerns being a lack of squad depth, and perhaps a fragility in midfield since the departure of Brandon O’Neill in January.

But, for whatever reason, Steve Corica’s outfit comes into tonight’s match in its poorest run of form since 2016. They ended the season without a win in five matches, a run that totals just two wins in ten if including matches before the hiatus. The machine is not running smoothly.

Sydney’s superb attacking quartet of Milos Ninkovic, Adam Le Fondre, Kosta Barabrouses and Alex Baumjohann will dominate much of the analysis, and for good reason, but Sydney’s wobble has its origin further back. The cornerstone of their success under Graham Arnold and then Corica was the dual midfield pivot of O’Neill and Josh Brillante. Both have left, and neither have been replaced. Luke Brattan is an excellent player in his own right, but his skillset is perhaps not what the Sky Blues require from a defensive screen, while whoever plays alongside him, be it Paolo Retre or Anthony Caceres, is a further step down in quality. Sydney now look gettable in transition and lack that ability to pen sides into their own half with wave after wave of attacks.

However, they have lost this match-up just once in their last 15, and with 11 days to prepare, they should be cherry ripe for the occasion.

After coming so close last year, is it time for Glory’s day?

Just taking in the post-match on TV while thinking about the second semi. Mark Bosnich makes sure he’s heard, doesn’t he?

This was good telly.

Michael Turner

When asked about what the Grand Final means to the club, Windbichler opens with ‘The City Football group, is a big group of franchises’.

Inject this into my veins.

August 26, 2020

City’s grinning players won’t care, but they were second best for most of that 90-minutes. Western United bossed the first half and looked assured in the second until Jamie Maclaren fired City ahead from the spot. From that point the balance of power shifted as United tired, but even then they refused to give in.

Mark Bosnich cites Tom Glover’s save after 59 minutes as the turning point, when City’s gloveman kept out Lustica from point-blank range. For all United’s dominance they didn’t create a host of clear scoring opportunities and after that one went begging there was a sense of it not being their night.

City will have to up their game on Sunday if they’re to lift the championship trophy. They were outgunned in midfield, Delbridge was embarrassed at right-back, ball movement from back to front was stogy, and the final ball – especially from Wales – was often found wanting.

But they live to fight another day. United can leave with their heads held high after a promising debut campaign.

Tomi Uskok

Tomi Uskok shone in defeat for Western United. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Melbourne City 2-0 Western United

Melbourne City are into the A-League grand final.

Jamie Maclaren

Jamie Maclaren fires Melbourne City into the lead. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

90+3 mins: United have gone route one recently, and it has proven dangerous with Uskok sent forward as an auxiliary striker. His presence has unsettled City’s defence, but a shot from the edge of the area scuttles wide.

90+1 mins: Into stoppage time now, with the game frantic and scrappy. Both sides fashion desperate snapshots, but United cannot fashion a clear opportunity and City are just about done.

89 mins: It should be 3-0 with three City attackers streaming forward against two United defenders, but the breakaway is butchered.

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