Glory dominate in draw


Perth Glory have produced a convincing performance in their international friendly against Al Ahli, despite conceding a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw on Tuesday night.

Perth Glory have produced a convincing performance in their international friendly against Al Ahli, despite conceding a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw on Tuesday night.

Brazilian striker Grafite was on hand to convert an injury-time header for the United Arab Emirates side but it was a goal that came against the flow of play in a match Glory dominated for long periods at nib Stadium.

Although Perth appeared somewhat shaky in the first 10 minutes, they soon started bossing the contest and after skipper Jacob Burns put his side ahead in the 42nd minute, the hosts had control of the game from then on until the final few moments.

Glory coach Ian Ferguson was delighted with what he saw, although he warned other Hyundai A-League sides that his team could still improve by the time the season kicks off on October 7.

“It was a good hit-out for us,” declared Ferguson.

“We controlled it for most of the game, created some really good chances.”

“We’ve still got seven weeks to go and I think playing against that team, they’re quite a well organised team, a good team.”

“And they’ve got some big guns there, big stars there, two Brazilians and a Chilean national as well, so it was good, it was pleasing for us, I was pleased with where we are,” he said.

Although Burns found himself on the scoresheet for a rare goal, Glory fans would have taken plenty of heart from a Brazilian of their own as the newly-signed Andrezinho ran riot through the middle during the first half in the absence of the injured Liam Miller.

Playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Andrezinho was ably assisted by impressive performances in defence from youngster Josh Risdon and Dutchman Bas van den Brink, while Adam Hughes also produced a solid shift in the holding midfield role.

Up front, Shane Smeltz and Travis Dodd were constant threats as they forced impressive Al Ahli stopper Obaid Al Taweela into a series of fine saves.

It didn’t look like the Glory would have it all their own way during the opening 10 minutes however, as a first-minute free kick from exciting Brazilian striker Ja-Ja forced Danny Vukovic to tip the ball around the post.

As Al Ahli ambassador and former Italy World Cup-winning skipper Fabio Cannavaro looked on, Ja-Ja continued to attack as his powerful effort in the fourth minute deflected off van den Brink’s boot and over the bar.

But the Glory were also producing chances of their own as Hughes just cleared the bar with two headers before Mile Sterjovski struck a powerful shot narrowly over after being picked out by Risdon’s superb 40-metre crossfield pass in the 24th minute.

A diving header from Smeltz five minutes from the break forced a fine save from Al Taweela but the goalkeeper’s luck would end two minutes later.

Breaking down the left, Todd Howarth’s pinpoint cross was nodded into the bar by Dodd. But as the ball came off the woodwork, it ricocheted off Al Taweela’s hands and into the path of Burns, whose shot just squirmed over the line as Khaled Mohamed attempted to clear.

Al Taweela was forced into action within three minutes of the second half opening as he acrobatically tipped another Smeltz header around the post.

It was a sign of things to come as Perth produced wave after wave of attacks, with WA Premier League striker Gustavo Maralunda impressing as he replaced Andrezinho in an unfamiliar midfield role before almost scoring with a powerful 67th-minute strike that just went over.

As Glory started to swing the changes late in the match, the Red Knights wrested some momentum back and started attacking again.

Ja-Ja shot wide from a goalmouth scramble in the 82nd-minute before sending another long-range free kick over the bar.

But it was Grafite who would have the last word. He may have been a testy presence all night and was lucky to be still on the park after swinging a punch at Burns, but the former Wolfsburg striker showed his predatory instincts a minute into added time when he ghosted in to nod home Ahmed Ali’s right-wing cross at the far-post.

Perth Glory 1 (Burns 42)
Al Ahli 1 (Grafite 90)