Shane Smeltz returned to goal scoring form with a double for Perth Glory but it wasn’t enough for the hosts as Sydney FC’s experienced brigade helped the Sky Blues come from behind twice to salvage a 2-2 draw at nib Stadium on Saturday night.
Sydney star Alessandro Del Piero was instrumental in both of the Sky Blues’ second half goals that left the Glory feeling three points were blown after the dominance the home side had in the A-League contest.
Glory coach Ian Ferguson felt like his team had lost a game rather than drawn it.
“It feels as though it’s a loss because we actually got the lead back and got ourselves into a great position, and then you all saw what happened,” Ferguson said.
The Glory controlled possession and territory for virtually the whole game, but continued to be wasteful in front of goal with Smeltz only able to finish in the 39th and 80th minutes.
Sydney veteran Jason Culina cancelled out the Glory’s opener when he headed home on 62 minutes before Sebastian Ryall scored for the Sky Blues with just eight minutes of regular time remaining.
It was a terrific result for Sydney given the limited chances and ball they had throughout the game.
Smeltz’s opener was a great effort with the New Zealand international heading home on the back of a brilliant cross from Josh Risdon.
It was just Smeltz’ third goal of the season and first since December 14 against the Newcastle Jets.
Smeltz scored 25 goals for the Glory last season and finally found some form again this campaign. His second later in the night means he now has 70 A-League goals from 111 appearances.
The Glory appeared to be cruising before brilliant work from Del Piero, Brett Emerton and finally Culina opened the Sky Blues’ account.
Del Piero was able to head a ball into space for Emerton to run onto, and the Socceroos’ veteran delivered a superb cross into the box to find his Australian teammate Culina.
It was Culina’s first goal since the 2010-11 season with Gold Coast United and his first since returning from a 22-month absence following a knee reconstruction.
Sydney had the last laugh with Ryall scoring far too easily in the 82nd minute after a free kick from Del Piero.
Glory goalkeeper Danny Vukovic couldn’t grasp the ball and it spilled to Ryall, who was waiting unchecked and he coolly finished for the Sky Blues.
“It’s unfortunate for Danny. He has been great for us this season and has pulled off some fantastic saves, but that’s what happens. Goalkeepers will be kicked in the teeth at times, and he’s big enough and ugly enough to get back on it again. He’s a good goalkeeper,” Ferguson said.
Sydney keeper Vedran Janjetovic continued to make some outstanding saves in the dying stages to finish his terrific night and send both sides home with a point each.
Sydney FC coach Frank Farina was pleased with the fight shown from Sydney FC in the second half to come away with a draw from Perth.
“I think any time you come to Perth you will most probably be happy with a guaranteed point before the game,” Farina said.
“I will be honest and the way the match panned out I think that most probably a draw was a fair result. Both teams had some good chances so 2-2 was a fair result.
“I’m happy with the point although it doesn’t really help us too much.”