Kerr hat-trick fires Glory to Grand Final

Skipper Sam Kerr bagged a stunning hat-trick as Glory secured a third Grand Final appearance in five years with a 4-2 extra-time win over Melbourne Victory in Sunday's Westfield W-League semi-final at AAMI Park.

Full match highlights

In what proved to be an epic last-four clash, Glory trailed to Christine Nairn's early opener until Kerr converted Leticia McKenna's cross to make it 1-1 on 72 minutes.

Kerr then turned provider with four minutes left, crossing for Rachel Hill to head home, only for Victory to hit back deep in stoppage-time through substitute Grace Maher.

But it was the visitors who dominated in the additional 30 minutes, Kerr restoring Glory's lead with a lobbed finish before Victory found themselves reduced to ten when defender Samantha Johnson picked up a second yellow.

And the win was all but secured early in the second period of extra-time when the impressive McKenna teed Kerr up for her third and Glory's fourth.

Head Coach Bobby Despotovski was understandably thrilled with the performance and the result and was quick to praise his charges' work ethic.

"That's the best we've played all season," he said.

"From the first minute, we looked like we were on top of them all the time and had more intensity than them.

"The players got through an astonishing amount of work in order to win the game and the victory is a fitting testament to them working extremely hard in pre-season and in training throughout the year to be able to play at that level of intensity for 120 minutes.

"Even in the latter stages of the game, we always looked like we were going to score and  created more chances in extra-time than we did in the whole of normal time. They [the Glory players] did not want to put in all that work and not end up getting anything.

"Everybody stood up today and I'm just delighted for everyone involved."

The visitors had got off to the worst possible start to the game, Victory hitting the front within the opening two minutes as Nairn's mis-hit cross deceived Eliza Campbell at the near post and ended up in the back of the net.

Kerr led her side's response to the early setback, drawing a save from Casey Dumont having run half the length of the field and moments later, the home 'keeper spread herself well to foil Rachel Hill.

As both sides continued to show plenty of attacking intent, Campbell made a regulation save to block Ella Mastrantonio's strike from just outside the box and the Victory defender was then involved in a controversial incident at the other end when she appeared to bundle Kerr over on the box, only for Glory's penalty appeals to be waved away.

Shannon May was the first to threaten for the visitors after the break, her looping header well claimed by Bethany Mason-Jones who had been introduced at the start of the second half in place of the injured Dumont.

As Glory continued to press for an equaliser, Hill fired over after Victory failed to fully clear a Nikki Stanton corner and Kerr saw her goalbound effort blocked by Laura Alleway.

But this year's Golden Boot winner was not to be denied on 72 minutes, getting in front of two home defenders to stab home a fine cross whipped in by McKenna.

And four minutes from time, Kerr stood the ball up at the back post where Hill rose highest to nod home her sixth goal of the season.

The late drama continued as Glory failed to clear Nairn's stoppage-time free-kick and Maher pounced to fire the loose ball past Campbell from close range and send the game into extra-time.

Seven minutes into the first additional period, Kerr restored her side's lead when she calmly lobbed Mason-Jones who had raced rashly off her line to try and claim Hill's through-ball.

Sixty seconds later, Victory's hopes took another hit as Johnson received a second yellow card for her tug on Kerr and Glory came close to taking advantage of their numerical superiority almost immediately, McKenna and Hill being denied by a combination of Mason-Jones' save and Alleway's goal-line block.

The fourth goal did arrive two minutes after the re-start, however, McKenna cutting the ball back for Kerr who finished with aplomb.

A frantic finale saw Natasha Dowie miss a gilt-edged chance to grab a lifeline for the navy-and-whites, but Despotovski's side were not to be denied and the final whistle sparked wild celebrations among the players and coaching staff alike.

Match Details

Westfield W-League 2018/19 Season Semi-Final

Melbourne Victory 2 (Nairn 2', Maher 90+4') Perth Glory 4 (Kerr 72', 97', 107', Hill 86') After Extra-Time

Half-time: 1-0

Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne

Referee: Rachel Mitchenson

Melbourne Victory: 1.Casey DUMONT (gk) (20.Bethany MASON-JONES (gk) 46'), 3.Teigen ALLEN (14.Melina AYRES 109'), 5.Laura ALLEWAY, 7.Christine NAIRN, 8.Angela BEARD, 9.Natasha DOWIE (c), 11.MelindaJ BARBIERI (10.Kyra COONEY-CROSS 83'), 15.Emily GIELNIK, 16.Samantha JOHNSON, 17.Danielle WEATHERHOLT (18.Grace MAHER 64'), 21.Ella MASTRANTONIO

Substitutes not used: 6.Annabel MARTIN

Yellow cards: Johnson, Mastrantonio

Red cards: Johnson

Perth Glory: 1.Eliza CAMPBELL (gk), 3.Kim CARROLL, 4.Alyssa MAUTZ (2.Sarah CARROLL 114'), 5.Shannon MAY, 7.Nicole STANTON, 9.Rachel HILL, 11.Leticia McKENNA (14.Caitlin DOEGLAS 117') , 13.Jamie-Lee GALE, 20.Sam KERR (c), 24.Natasha RIGBY, 25.Katie NAUGHTON 

Substitutes not used: 12.Jenna ONIONS, 15.Alexia MORENO, 21.Morgan AQUINO (gk)

Yellow cards: Nil

Red cards: Nil

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