inspired by a stunning four-goal performance from Shane Smeltz Perth Glory romped to a thrilling 4-2 win over Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.
Inspired by a stunning four-goal performance from Shane Smeltz Perth Glory romped to a thrilling 4-2 win over Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.
In a pulsating contest at nib Stadium, the home side trailed twice in the first-half but turned on the style after the break to chalk up an eighth home win of the season.
Perth Glory are now in the box seat to finish third and host two home finals.
Brandon O-Neill belied his tender years with a superbly accomplished display in central midfield, Andrezinho wreaked havoc down the left flank and Scott Neville slotted seamlessly into the unfamiliar role of centre-back.
O-Neill and Neville were among no fewer than six West Australians under the age of 23 named in the matchday squad, four were teenagers and two made their debut.
With a vociferous home crowd right behind them, the men in purple began brightly and were almost gifted the lead as early as the third minute.
Making his first return to nib Stadium, Tando Velaphi misjudged a Matthew Foschini back pass, allowing it to go through his legs before scrambling back to prevent an own-goal completing his embarrassment.
Moments later, however, the former Glory ‘keeper made amends as he went full length to keep out a low drive from Steven McGarry who had made a bursting run from midfield and at that stage it looked only a matter of time before the hosts broke the deadlock.
But Victory gradually settled, found their rhythm and carved out a decent chance of their own on 15 minutes when Danny Vukovic was forced to pull off a fine save to keep out a fiercely-struck effort from Harry Kewell.
With the game already stretched even before the first quarter had elapsed, Glory again went close as Velaphi kept out a free-kick from Andrezinho who was causing plenty of problems down the left flank, but within sixty seconds it was Victory who got their noses in front.
Fabio split the home defence with a superb through ball and although Vukovic got a hand to Carlos Hernandez-s shot, he couldn-t keep it out of the net.
Yet in keeping with the breakneck pace of the proceedings, Glory were back on level terms within a minute.
Andrezinho pounced on a Foschini error and crossed for Shane Smeltz who powered home a spectacular dining header to bag his tenth goal of the campaign.
Both sides continued to throw men forward for the rest of the opening stanza, Billy Mehmet coming within centimetres of giving Glory the lead on 43 minutes with a low shot after Smeltz-s persistence had forced Ubay Luzardo to cough up possession in a dangerous area.
But it was the men from Victoria who would ultimately head into the sheds with the advantage as Glory could only half-clear a Hernandez free-kick, Fabio drove the ball back into the box and it fell kindly for Mark Milligan who gleefully lashed a close-range half-volley past Vukovic.
Half-time Perth Glory 1-2 Melbourne Victory
The nib Stadium faithful needed to make the most of the half-time breather because the drama continued right from the start of the second period.
17 year old Jesse Makarounas was introduced for his debut appearance of the season as a replacement for McGarry who had tweaked a hamstring and the youngster-s first job was to stand back and watch his side restore parity with a perfectly-executed free-kick.
The irrepressible Andrezinho whipped a vicious ball into the box and Smeltz supplied the deft glancing header that left Velaphi helpless.
And still the chances continued to flow at either end in what was rapidly developing into one of the most entertaining encounters seen at nib Stadium this season.
Vukovic foiled Thompson after he latched onto an Hernandez cross just after the hour mark before Smeltz strode once more onto centre stage to give Glory the lead for the first time and move ahead of his Victory rival at the top of the A-League-s all-time goalscoring chart.
Mehmet-s turn in the box was too clever for Milligan who hauled him down and Glory-s marquee man rifled the resulting spot-kick past Velaphi.
But the New Zealand international wasn-t done.
Just four minutes later he carved out a chance for himself, cut inside on his right foot and unleashed a magnificent drive from just outside the box that beat Velaphi all ends up and took Glory out to a 4-2 lead.
That fourth goal seemed to take the wind out of Victory-s sails and although Hernandez squandered the simplest of chances to grab his side a lifeline with 15 minutes left, they rarely threatened after that.
Glory continued to out-pass and out-manoeuvre their vastly more experienced opponents and were great value for the rapturous reception that greeted the final whistle.
Perth Glory 4 (Smeltz 23- 48-, 61- (pen), 68-) Melbourne Victory 2 (Hernandez 22-, Milligan 45- (+3)) nib Stadium Referee: Alan Milliner Attendance: 9724
Perth Glory: 1.Danny Vukovic (GK), 4.Billy Mehmet, 5.Steve Pantelidis, 9.Shane Smeltz, 12.Scott Neville, 13.Travis Dodd, 14.Steven McGarry (18.Jesse Makarounas 46-), 17.Todd Howarth, 19.Josh Risdon, 26.Brandon O-Neill (29. Sam Mitchinson 76-), 27.Andrezinho (15.Tommy Amphlett 73-)
Substitutes not used: 20. Neil Young Yellow cards: Howarth 45- (+2), Smeltz 52-
Melbourne Victory: 1. Tando Velaphi (GK), 2. Matthew Foschini, 3. Fabio, 5.Mark Milligan, 10. Archie Thompson, 13. Diogo Ferreira, 16. Carlos Hernandez, 17.Jimmy Jeggo (4. Petar Franjic 72-), 19. Isaka Cernak (29. Julius Davies 63-), 22. Harry Kewell, 24. Ubay Luzardo
Substitutes not used: 6. Leigh Broxham, 21. Ante Covic (GK) Yellow cards: Jeggo 16-, Fabio 47-, Kewell 49-