Sydney FC to face Perth Glory in A-League Grand Final
Sydney: Former Bolton striker Adam le Fondre scored twice as Sydney FC defeated Melbourne Victory 6-1 on Sunday to end the defending champions' A-League campaign and set up a 2019 grand final against Perth Glory.
First-half strikes from Aaron Calver and Alex Brosque, along with a Leigh Broxham own goal, set them on their way, with Le Fondre ramming home the advantage with a penalty and a well-taken chance in the second period before Milos Ninkovic hit a sixth.
It put three-time champions Sydney into the decider next Sunday against Perth, the year's dominant team.
Perth made the grade by beating Adelaide United 5-4 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out on Friday after a white-knuckle game ended 3-3 in extra-time.
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"We just got everything right tonight, was just one of those games," said delighted Sydney captain Brosque. "Perth is a big challenge of course ... they've been a great side all year. But tonight was a big challenge and we ended well."
Under A-League rules, the teams that finished the regulation 27-game season first (Perth) and second (Sydney) progressed straight to the semi-finals.
Third-placed Victory played sixth-placed Wellington Phoenix for a spot in the last four, while fourth-placed Adelaide faced fifth-placed Melbourne City.
🎥 | Check out how we progressed to the 2019 @ALeague Grand Final at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in a massive #BigBlue #MothersDayMassacre! 🙌#SydneyIsSkyBlue #ComeWithUs #FeelTheFinals pic.twitter.com/SUG5PtBjGT— Sydney FC (@SydneyFC) May 12, 2019
In front of a home crowd, Sydney got the perfect start with an opener after just three minutes with Calver converting at close range after goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas spilled the ball from a corner.
They had to wait another 40 minutes for the second when Brosque volleyed home at the far post before a Broxham flying header made it 3-0.
Despite boasting Japanese star Keisuke Honda, Victory never got going and when Le Fondre cleverly won a penalty then converted it on 63 minutes they crumbled.
Le Fondre got his second five minutes later, sidefooting past the keeper, and Ninkovic rubbed salt in the wound with two minutes left before Ola Toivonen got a consolation for Victory in injury time.
Lock it in!— Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) May 12, 2019
The Hyundai @ALeague 2019 Grand Final is here and it’s time to feel the finals.
Be there to experience the emotion of Grand Final football and help your team become the Hyundai A-League 2019 Champions!
🎟https://t.co/2O2NqEneLv#ALeagueGF #FeelTheFinals pic.twitter.com/6aKWyC3xwo
On Friday, Glory looked to have the game sewn up when Diego Castro's second goal in the 74th minute gave them a 2-0 lead.
But Papa Diawara gave Adelaide hope by scoring in the 81st minute after a goal-mouth scramble, and with just seconds left Ryan Kitto snatched a dramatic equaliser.
Perth reclaimed the lead early in extra time from Scott Neville's header, before Adelaide's Marco Marrone responded to set up the shootout.
Respective skippers Castro and Isaias Sanchez had their penalties saved and it went to sudden-death at 4-4 before goalkeeper Liam Reddy stopped Nathan Konstandopoulos' shot and Joel Chianese stepped up to put Tony Popovic's team in the final.
"It was a crazy game and I think we learned in world football this week that anything can happen," said Glory coach Popovic, referring to dramatic wins for Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League.
"We led right until the end and Adelaide showed the incredible spirit they have as a team (to come back). Our character then was amazing."
Perth Glory and Sydney FC have sealed their places in the 2020 AFC Champions League.
Sources: AFP, Sydney FC
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