Perth Glory FC remain on top of the Hyundai A-League, despite falling 3-1 to Sydney FC in a highly charged affair at nib Stadium.
Nearly 12-thousand fans watched on, as three players were sent off and four goals were scored, including one to new signing Denis Kramar. However, it ended up a disappointing night for Perth as its lead at the summit of the Hyundai A-League was reduced to just one point.
Perth looked a team on top of its game early, and enjoyed a 60 per-cent share of possession and four unanswered corners but was unable to capitalise on its dominance.
Glory was unlucky not to take the lead in the 22nd minute when Dino Djulbic connected with a Nebojsa Marinkovic corner, only to see the ball cannon off the back of teammate Richard Garcia and for Sydney to clear.
In the 29th minute, Sydney struck against the run of play via a penalty.
After some link up play from Bernie Ibini and Alex Brosque, Glory winger Dragan Paljic was adjudged by referee Kris Griffiths-Jones as having brought down Brosque within the area.
Austrian International, Mark Janko stepped up and smashed the ball past Glory keeper Danny Vukovic.
Barely five minutes later and Griffiths-Jones was again involved with both Djulbic and Jacques Faty being shown red cards for a scuffle in the 18 yard box. The incident saw both sides reduced to ten men, but still Glory looked the dominant team.
Paljic almost made amends for conceding the penalty earlier in the match in the 43rd minute, when he came agonisingly close to connecting with a Josh Risdon cross that flashed across the six yard box.
At the beginning of the second half, Kenny Lowe looked to his bench for inspiration and decided to bring on new signing Denis Kramar who slotted in at centre back alongside skipper Michael Thwaite.
Glory was dominant again over the Sky Blues, but In the 54th minute, Sydney threatened through Ibini as he skipped clear of the Glory defence only to see his shot sting the palms of Vukovic who made a comfortable save.
The next best chance of the half also went the way of Sydney with Alex Gersbach firing over the bar after a quick break.
In the 68th minute, Glory fell further behind courtesy of another penalty. Kramar brought down Janko and Milos Dimitrijevic stepped up to put Sydney two goals to the good.
However Glory were thrown a lifeline when Nikola Petkovic was given his marching orders, picking up a second yellow for an intentional handball in the 71st minute.
With the numerical advantage, Glory set out to reduce the defecit in the 73rd minute when Kramar scrambled in after Thwaite’s header was blocked. Once again, Glory proved why it's one of the most dangerous teams in the league from set pieces.
However Glory’s hopes were dashed in the 89th minute when a solo effort from Ibini saw Sydney re-establish its two goal buffer. Vukovic was unlucky as his initial save hung in the air perfectly for Ibini to head home.
As referee Kris Griffiths-Jones drew the match to a close, Perth saw its lead at the top of the Hyundai A-League table shaved to a solitary point.
After the game, Lowe was philosophical about the loss.
"I think it was a very bizarre game of football. At the end of the day, you can't give penalties away."
"We haven't been outplayed, outfought, outpassed. We're doing okay," he said.
Perth will now look towards next week’s Westfield FFA Cup Final rematch and Lowe expected a few changes to the starting XI.
"We got Griffiths and Nichols coming back next week. We approach Adelaide same as we've always done; 11 v 11 and have a game. Hopefully it's 11 v 11."
Perth Glory will visit Victoria to take on Melbourne City the week after before returning to nib Stadium on February 28 to take on Hyundai A-League champions Brisbane Roar.
Perth Glory FC 1 (Denis KRAMAR 73’)
Sydney FC 3 (Mark JANKO 30’, Milos DIMITRIJEVIC 69’, Bernie IBINI 89’)
YELLOW CARDS: Nikola PETKOVIC 28’, Dragan PALJIC 29’, Denis KRAMAR 68’, Milos DIMITRIJEVIC 73’, Alex GERSBACH 76’
RED CARDS: Dino DJULBIC 36’, Jacques FATY 36’, Nikola PETKOVIC 71’
PERTH GLORY FC: 1. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 6. Dino DJULBIC, 8. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 9. Andy KEOGH, 10. Nebojsa MARINKOVIC (20. Daniel DE SILVA 66’), 11. Richard GARCIA (3.Brandon O'NEILL 77’), 15. Jamie MACLAREN, 19. Josh RISDON, 21. Scott JAMIESON, 23. Michael THWAITE (c), 27. Dragan PALJIC (28. Denis KRAMAR 45’)
SUBS NOT USED: 18.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 25. Mitchell OXBORROW
COACH: Kenny LOWE
SYDNEY FC: 6. Nikola PETKOVIC, 8. Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 11. Bernie IBINI, 13. Christopher NAUMOFF (23. Rhyan GRANT 45’), 14. Alex BROSQUE (c) (5. Matt JURMAN 72’), 16. Alex GERSBACH, 20. Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 21. Mark JANKO, 25. Aaron CALVER, 26. Jacques FATY, 27. Mickael TAVARES (17. Terry ANTONIS 55’),
SUBS NOT USED: 1. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 9. Shane SMELTZ,
COACH: Graham ARNOLD
Referee: Kris GRIFFITHS-JONES
Assistant Referee: Josh MANNELLA & Tim MIHEVC
Fourth Official: Adam FIELDING