A stunning brace from American import Vanessa DiBernardo has steered Perth Glory Women to an upset 2-1 win over Adelaide United at Ashfield Reserve on Sunday.
DiBernardo found the back of the net in the 64th and 77th minutes to secure Glory’s first win since Round 5, in the club’s final home game of the season in front of a boisterous crowd of 516.
Abigail Dahlkemper pulled one back for Adelaide in the 84th minute, but Glory held on to claim the three points despite being reduced to 10 players when Ella Mastrantonio was sent off for picking up her second yellow card of the match.
Perth’s slim finals hopes were dashed earlier in the day when Brisbane Roar defeated Melbourne Victory, but that did not make the girls in purple any less hungry for a win over former coach Jamie Harnwell’s new club.
“It took a little while, but this is a good win for us and it feels good,” DiBernardo said.
“We played a very good first half, but we finally broke them down in the second and scored two really nice goals. We were unlucky to give one up, but we stuck together and took the win.”
DiBernardo caused major headaches for the Adelaide defence from the opening whistle, constantly putting goalkeeper Kaitlyn Savage under pressure with shots on target from all angles.
Glory wingers Nikki Stanton and Carla Bennett were also in the thick of the action in the first half, keeping full backs Alexandra Gummer and Isabel Hodgson on their toes.
Shannon May, Mastrantonio and Shawn Billam also provided the attacking trio with plenty of goal-scoring chances, while keeping Lady Reds midfielders Dahlkemper, Sarah Killion and Lorena Maggio at bay.
“Those girls played really well today,” DiBernardo said. “They kept the ball and gave time for me to get into position. They really opened things up for me.”
Adelaide lost the dangerous Allira Toby to injury late in the first half, but her replacement Chantelle Ryder proved no pushover for the Glory defence.
Led by captain Kim Carroll, Perth’s backline thwarted several attacks on goal by Emily Condon and former Glory forward Rosie Sutton, while stand-in goalkeeper Gabby Dal Busco pulled off a number of crucial saves.
DiBernardo broke the game open in the 64th minute when she stole the ball from Adelaide captain Elizabeth Milne deep in the box before dribbling around Savage and firing the ball home at the near-post.
Glory substitute Caitlin Doeglas almost doubled the lead four minutes later, but Savage pulled off a miraculous diving save to her right.
DiBernardo then ran on to a clever overhead pass in the 77th minute and calmly placed the ball to the right of Savage to notch her third brace of the season and seal victory for last season’s premiers despite a late push for Adelaide.
“We’ve put together just ‘halves’ this season, but I think this is the first game we’ve collectively put together and played the full 90 minutes,” DiBernardo said.
Glory Women will close their Westfield W-League season against Western Sydney at Popondetta Park next Sunday.