A brilliant defensive effort from a 10-man Western Sydney Wanderers boosted the visitors to a 1-0 victory over the Perth Glory at nib Stadium.
The Wanderers scored the only goal of the game through lacopo La Rocca in the 15th minute and then defended outstandingly throughout the second half after Youssouf Hersi received a red card in the 38th minute.
The Glory completely dominated the second half, creating goal-scoring chance after goal-scoring chance, but could not break though the Wanderers’ defence.
Perth dearly missed star striker Shane Smeltz, who was unavailable due to a pressing family matter.
The Glory continued to pepper the goals, but Western Sydney goalkeeper Ante Covic was impenetrable and made a host of outstanding saves.
With Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Michael Beauchamp and Shannon Cole leading the way in defence as well, the Wanderers did an outstanding job to hold out Perth for the win.
The victory moves Western Sydney into fifth position on the A-League ladder, leapfrogging Melbourne Heart, Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory.
The visitors silenced the Perth crowd early with a well worked goal in the 15th minute when Aaron Mooy put a good cross into the box that La Rocca did well to head into the top corner.
The Wanderers then had another golden chance in the 34th minute through Mark Bridge, but the game changed soon after when Hersi was given a red card.
The Dutchman lashed out with a kick to Perth’s Michael Jamieson when he was on the ground after a heavy tackle.
That turned possession enormously in the Glory’s favour for the entire second half and coach Ian Ferguson would have been disappointed they didn’t convert from a host of chances.
Steve McGarry hit the side bar with a well struck shot from long range in the 57th minute and had another header opportunity in the 91st, but that also hit the crossbar.
Covic also made superb saves off Nick Ward in the 59th minute and Billy Mehmet in the 64th.
The Glory had one last opportunity in the 94th but Adrian Zahra pushed it high and, fittingly, he was likely offside.
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic was critical of referee Kris Griffiths-Jones’ performance.
“I thought that overall the referee had a poor game and it would have been an injustice in the end if we didn’t get the points because of some poor decisions,” Popovic said.
“It would have been a shame if the players didn’t come away with the win.
“We felt that up until the sending off we totally dominated and probably should have been two up, but the send off obviously changes things slightly.
“After that it was all about character, discipline and real team unity.”
Ferguson was disappointed the Glory couldn’t capitalise on having an extra man in the second half.
“We never had the cutting edge today and we are very disappointed with the result. We had the bulk of play and they made it difficult for us. We had our chances, but just didn’t take them,” Ferguson said.
“We kept the ball well but we struggled to find that little bit of cutting edge or X-factor that could split the defence open.
“Credit to them for coming here and getting the early goal, and then doggishly defending after getting a man sent off.”