Goals from Bruno Fornaroli, Carlo Armiento and Neil Kilkenny secured an historic first ever AFC Champions League point for Glory as Richard Garcia’s men fought out a pulsating 3-3 draw with Shanghai Shenhua in Doha.
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Free-kicks either side of the break from Fornaroli and Armiento fired the WA side into a 2-0 lead, only for Shanghai to put themselves back on level terms courtesy of a brace from skipper Giovanni Moreno.
When substitute Yu Hanchao made it 3-2 sixty immediately after Moreno’s leveller, it looked as if Glory were set to suffer another unfortunate defeat, but Kilkenny’s nerveless late penalty ensured that they would instead secure a deserved share of the spoils.
And the drama continued even after the final whistle had sounded as substitute Cao Yunding received a straight red card.
Garcia was unsurprisingly pleased with the character shown by his charges and felt that they were good value for the draw.
“It didn’t do my heart any good,” he said, “but it was a hard-earned point and one that I definitely thought we deserved.
“Besides 15 minutes of the game, I felt we were in control of it.
“The lads showed great resilience, really stood together as a group and worked hard to get back into the game.
“We need to learn from these experiences and be more composed when teams are coming at us, ride out that storm and then be composed enough to keep the ball and change the tempo of the game.
“We’d love to now take three points [from the FC Tokyo game on Thursday] and end on a high.
“Going back to Perth with a win would be fantastic for the group and probably nothing more than they deserve, but we have to be mindful of people ‘s bodies and make sure we do the right thing by them and have everyone fit for the A-League.”
Showing seven changes from the side which started against Ulsan Hyundai on Friday, Glory began brightly and twice came close to opening the scoring through Dane Ingham who saw both of his close-range efforts blocked by Shanghai ‘keeper, Li Shuai.
The Chinese side also threatened in the opening period, notably when Liu Ruofan was foiled by both Liam Reddy and a goal-line clearance from Jonathan Aspropotamitis.
The deadlock was finally broken in first-half stoppage-time, however, Fornaroli bending home a stunning free-kick after Bi Jinhao had fouled Josh Rawlins on the edge of the box.
Although it was Shanghai who came flying out of the blocks at the start of the second-half, it was Glory who managed to find the net, Armiento using his first touch after being introduced from the bench to curl a free-kick past the despairing Shuai.
Requiring a positive result to keep their hopes of reaching the knockout stages alive, the men in blue promptly threw caution to the wind and pulled one back almost immediately via Moreno’s header.
Ten minutes later, the former Colombian international showed great awareness in the box to thump home from close-range and within sixty seconds, Hanchao, who had provided the assist for Moreno’s leveller, surged into the box and slammed a low shot past Reddy to make it 3-2.
To their credit, however, Glory stuck to their task and were rewarded four minutes from time when Stephane Mbia clattered into Armiento in the box and Kilkenny maintained his 100% penalty record in purple by sending Shuai the wrong way.
AFC Champions League 2020 Group F
Shanghai Shenhua 3 (Moreno 62′, 72′, Hanchao 73′) Perth Glory 3 (Fornaroli 45+2′. Armiento 58′, Kilkenny (pen) 86′)
Education City Stadium, Doha
Referee: H C Dilan Perera
Shanghai Shenhua: 27.Li SHUAI (GK), 3.Bi JINHAO (20.Kim SHINWOOK 59′), 10.Giovanni Andres MORENO (37.Sun SHILIN 75′), 23.Bai JIAJUN, 24.Zhu YUE (11.Yu HANCHAO 46′), 25.Peng XINLI, 30.Stephane MBIA, 31.Wang WEI (35.Feng XIAOTING 75′), 32.Fulangxisi AIDI, 36.Liu RUOFAN (28.Cao YUNDING 59′), 43.Qian JIEGEI
Substitutes not used: 1.Ma ZHEN (GK), 14.Sun KAI, 26.Qin SHENG, 33.Wang HAIJIAN, 38.Wen JIABAO
Yellow Cards: Mbia, Jiegei
Red Cards: Yunding
Perth Glory: 33.Liam REDDY, 3.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS (4.Darryl LACHMAN 66′), 5.Nicholas WALSH (16.Nick SULLIVAN 66′), 7.Luke BODNAR, 9.Bruno FORNAROLI, 10.Daniel STYNES (25.Carlo ARMIENTO 57′), 13.Osama MALIK (15.Brandon WILSON 57′), 17.Diego CASTRO (c), 22.Joshua RAWLINS, 23.Dane INGHAM, 88.Neil KILKENNY
Substitutes not used: 1.Tando VELAPHI (GK), 11.Declan HUGHES, 14.Giordano COLLI, 27.Bryce BAFFORD, 28.Mason TATAFU
Yellow Cards: Castro, Kilkenny, Sullivan, Wilson
Red Cards: None