Castro classic caps off gutsy comeback


Diego Castro fired home a spectacular stoppage-time equaliser to secure Glory a dramatic 2-2 draw with Melbourne City in Sunday’s Round 21 clash at AAMI Park.


A first-half brace from Jamie Maclaren had looked set to consign the visitors to what would have been their first away defeat of the season, the former Glory man heading home his fourth goal in as many games and then adding his fifth from the penalty spot after Shane Lowry had been penalised for handball.

But second-half substitute Joel Chianese gave the men in purple hope with an 84th-minute header, before Castro completed the impressive comeback by rifling home from 22m out.

The result leaves Tony Popovic’s men six points clear at the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder with six rounds of the regular season left to play and the Head Coach was understandably quick to praise the determination his charges showed in their fightback.


“In the first half, Jamie [Maclaren] did what Jamie does,” he said. “They got early balls into him and he scored a great goal and the second one was from us trying to play and giving away a penalty.

“We weren’t at our fluent best in the first half, they contained us well and we looked a little bit flat which I’m sure was partly from the travel and partly from the heat. So we didn’t play at our best, but we still created chances and that always gives you confidence with this team.

“Then in the second half we totally dominated and I believe it was just reward for the players to do that away from home, to show that character and desire. We were never under threat in the second half against a team away from home and that’s really positive for us moving forward.

“With Diego [Castro], anything’s possible. He’s a special player and he certainly led the way in our recovery in the second half.”

Liam Reddy was called into action twice in the opening three minutes of the game, firstly to chest away an errant backpass from Dino Djulbic and then to parry a dangerous cross from Shayon Harrison.

The Glory goalkeeper was helpless to prevent City from opening the scoring on 26 minutes, however, Maclaren drifting into the box to meet Scott Jamieson’s superb cross with an unstoppable header.

And nine minutes later Maclaren added his and the hosts’ second, calmly sending Reddy the wrong way from the spot after Lowry had been penalised for handling Florin Berenguer-Bohrer’s cross from the right.

The visitors almost mustered an immediate response, Chris Ikonomidis surging towards the edge of the box and playing in Castro, only for the Spaniard’s toe-poke finish to drift wide of the far post.

And Ikonomidis himself went agonisingly close to halving the arrears in first-half stoppage-time, seeing his diving header blocked by Eugene Galekovic after Djulbic had climbed highest to nod a Neil Kilkenny free-kick across the face of goal.

Glory began the second half in similarly purposeful fashion and went close again six minutes in when a clever Castro pass bisected the home defence and only a brave block from the alert Galekovic prevented Andy Keogh from bundling the ball home.

They finally made the breakthrough their second-half pressure warranted six minutes from time when Jason Davidson played a neat one-two with Ikonomidis before delivering a pinpoint cross which Chianese  converted with a downward header.

In a frantic finale, only a superb block from Scott Jamieson prevented Castro from slotting home another Davidson cross, but come stoppage-time, the Spaniard would not be denied.

After some patient approach work, the 36-year-old set his sights on goal and beat Galekovic all ends up with a superb swerving strike.

Match Details

Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Season Round 21

Melbourne City 2 (Maclaren 26′, 35′) Perth Glory 2 (Chianese 84′, Castro 90+2′)

Half-time: 2-0

Referee: Alex King

Melbourne City: 18.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 3.Scott JAMIESON (c), 7.Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 9.Shayon HARRISON (8.Riley MCGREE 64′), 13.Nathaniel ATKINSON, 15.Kearyn BACCUS, 22.Curtis GOOD, 25.Iacopo LA ROCCA, 26.Luke BRATTAN (36.Dylan PIERIAS 85′), 27.Florin BERENGUER-BOHRER (19.Lachlan WALES 70′), 29.Jamie MACLAREN

Substitutes not used: 1.Mark BIRIGHITTI, 10.Dario VIDOSIC

Yellow cards: Baccus, La Rocca, Griffiths, Atkinson

Red cards: Nil

Perth Glory: 33.Liam REDDY (gk), 3.Jason DAVIDSON, 4.Shane LOWRY, 5.Ivan FRANJIC (7.Joel CHIANESE 63′), 6.Dino DJULBIC, 9.Andy KEOGH (11.Brendon SANTALAB 63′), 13.Matthew SPIRANOVIC, 17.Diego CASTRO, 19.Chris IKONOMIDIS, 27.JUANDE, 88.Neil KILKENNY (20.Jake BRIMMER 75′)

Substitutes not used: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 23.Scott NEVILLE

Yellow cards: Ikonomidis

Red cards: Nil