Perth Glory FC has secured a vital point after a nail-biting 1-1 draw against Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium while maintaining its lead at the top of the table for the 14th consecutive week.
The scoreboard ticked over early in just the 11th minute when Pablo Sanchez put the Reds in front, after he cut inside his defender to slot the ball over Vukovic into the net.
That wasn’t in the script for Glory, who had yet to beat United in three previous outings all season. It could have been two nil for the Reds, five minutes after, when Marcelo Carrusca fired on goal but Vukovic managed to save well.
Glory didn’t give in, and two minutes later Perth winger Sidnei - playing his first game since Round 14 - sent in a teasing cross from the left, which connected with Richard Garcia who headed just over the bar.
Sergio Cirio should have put the home team in front after missing a sitter in front of goal in the 22nd while Carrusca also managed a decent effort which went just wide of the post two minutes later.
Glory hung in though to see off the half, at 1-nil.
The second 45 proved that football really is a game of two halves.
Young speedy winger Chris Harold came on for former Socceroo Richard Garcia at half-time and helped to reignite the forward line.
Whatever Kenny Lowe said at half-time in the change rooms seemed to work, as Glory’s possession and scoring accelerated, resembling that of a team at the top of the league.
By the 53rd minute, Glory was level thanks to another magic moment by dead-ball specialist Nebojsa Marinkovic.
After fending off three Adelaide players, Sidnei tapped the ball to the 28-year old Serbian, who fired the ball into the top corner from outside the box, leaving Reds keeper Eugene Galekovic with no chance.
The match intensified from there on, as Glory played with more purpose and created several chances.
United however pressed for a winner but it was thanks to Vukovic whose goalkeeping heroics, kept Glory in the match. The 29-year old made three important saves which included point blank shots from Awer Mabil and Bruce Djite.
Perth did create a great chance in the 84th minute to seal the match when Andy Keogh fired on goal from a narrow angle and was saved by United even though Rostyn Griffiths stood alone in the middle of the penalty area with a clear shot on goal.
By the end of 90 minutes though, scores were level, and after another gallant performance on the road, Glory kept its premiership chances alive with ten rounds to go.
While he was highly praised for his acrobatic work between the posts, Vukovic said he was just doing his job.
“As Kenny says my job is to save goals and I just did my bit for the night” he said.
“At 1-0 we knew we were still in it and the boys did their job and picked it up a gear in the second half”.
Glory will head on the road again next week to face Melbourne City who have dropped just outside the top six and will be looking to edge back into finals contention.
Perth Glory FC will return to nib Stadium on February 28, to host Hyundai A-League Champions Brisbane Roar.
ADL v PER 1-1
Scorers: Sanchez 11', Marinkovic 53'
Yellow cards: R. Zadkovich 33' N. Marinkovic 34' M. Thwaite 55' S. Sciola 72' A. Mabil 90' S. Jamieson 90' +2
Perth Glory FC squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 5. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 8.Ruben ZADKOVICH, 9.Andy KEOGH, 10.Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 11.Richard GARCIA (45' 14. Chris HAROLD), 16.Sidnei Sciola MORAES (76' 27. Dragan PALJIC), 19.Josh RISDON, 21.Scott JAMIESON, 23.Michael THWAITE (c), 28.Denis KRAMAR
Unused Substitutes: 3. Brandon O'NEIL, 15. Jamie MACLAREN, 18. Jack DUNCAN.
Adelaide United FC squad: Eugene GALEKOVIC(GK & C), 2. Micheal MARRONE, 4. Dylan MCGOWAN, 5. Osama MALIK, 7. PAblo SANCHEZ ( 71' 11. Bruce Djite), 8. ISAIAS, 9. Sergio CIRIO, 10. Marcello Carrusca (76' 16. Craig GOODWIN) , 18. James JEGGO, 19. Miguel PALANCA (61' 17. Awer Mabil) , 21. Tarek ELRICH
Unused Substitues: 14. Cameron WATSON, 30. John HALL (GK)