In the end, Perth Glory’s season of dash and triumph was brought undone by Sydney FC’s goalkeeper dancing madly in the penalty box.
Andrew Redmayne’s goal-line antics turned him into the hero of the night, bamboozling Andy Keogh and Brendon Santalab and turning the tide of the A-League grand final.
Sydney FC won its record-equalling fourth A-league title 4-1 after the grand final ended locked at 0-0 after extra time.
“Purely elation,” Redmayne said on Foxsport of the Sydney triumph. “Amazing performance, we knew it was going to be tough a tactical battle … all the staff, they put a plan in place and we are just so happy we could execute [it] …
“There is a hell of a lot of preparation that goes into anything, and that is coaching staff as well as the players. We knew what we were doing and we were just so happy to see it done”
Attended by a record A-League grand final crowd of 56,371, it was the first decider in eight years with no goals at full-time.
It also sent Sky Blues captain Alex Brosque out on a winning note, the former Socceroo bringing the curtain down on his career.
For coach Tony Popovic, it’s now four grand final defeats in the A-League – his first three with Western Sydney.
Sydney FC has now claimed three of its four titles through shootouts.
Adam Le Fondre, Brandon O’Neill, Rhyan Grant and Reza Ghoochannej scored in the penalty success.
Sydney FC coach Steve Corica had earlier been left fuming after VAR failed to recognise a goal in the 28th minute.
The Sky Blues thought they had scored when Michael Zullo whipped the ball into the box and Glory defender Matthew Spiranovic accidentally knocked it into his own net.
But Sydney’s cheers soon turned to despair when the players realised the linesman’s flag had been raised for offside.
Referee Shaun Evans sent the decision to VAR, but the decision was upheld. Zullo was the man deemed to be offside when Alex Brosque unleashed his pass.
Replays – aided by the yellow line – showed Zullo to be in line with Spiranovic when Brosque passed the ball.
Corica received a yellow card for his protests, while social media erupted.
But technically VAR got it right, with the review system only able to overturn obvious errors. This one was so line-ball that there was no scope for VAR to overturn it under the current guidelines.
Perth’s loss, in a year where they finished on top made it four grand final losses as a coach for Tony Popovic
Tense grand final tactics and a slippery pitch contributed to goalless affair, with very few chances.
Popovic sprung a surprise by leaving Keogh out of his starting lineup, with his replacement Joel Chianese failing to cut through.
Diego Castro, a peripheral first-half figure, drew the first save of the game after half-time with a header from Ivan Franjic’s centre.
A furious bust-up between Rhyan Grant and Jason Davidson shortly after signalled the contest had finally come alive, and made the mulleted Sydney FC man a pantomime villain for the rest of the contest.
Redmayne was equal to another Castro header but Glory weren’t able to fashion cut-through moments.
In extra-time, Perth looked likely winners, still possessing pace up front thanks to the fresh Keogh and the lively Chris Ikonomidis.
With Brosque off with a tight hamstring, bringing a premature end to his final appearance, the Sky Blues were out on their feet.
Sydney’s defence, led by a superb Aaron Calver, was able to hold Perth out all night.
Milos Ninkovic was awarded the Joe Marston Medal for his performance, though there was no standout choice for the prize.
Sydney’s Ryan Grant said it had been a tense battle all night.
“It is freakish. I don’t know where to start … just over the moon for everyone involved,” he told Foxsport. “It was very cagey wasn’t it?
“It was one of those ones. Not a lot of chances, but both teams were getting stuck in which is what grand finals are about. We knew that they played 120 [minutes] last week and we just hung in there.”
At the end, they were all dancing wildly.