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2019-20 Australian A League, Elimination Finals
  • Joel Chianese (18')

Perth Glory end Phoenix's A-League title bid

Perth Glory are still alive in this season's A-League series finals thanks to a first-half strike from Joel Chianese that broke Wellington Phoenix hearts at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday.

While the Phoenix dominated periods of the opening match of the A-league finals series, their lack of firepower in front of goal led to their undoing.

The third-placed New Zealanders were seeking to end a poor finals record which had yielded only one win in their past six fixtures. They had reason to be confident against their sixth-placed opponents after defeating last season's grand finalists a month ago.

The Phoenix, for their part, had been playing without luck in recent weeks as their own winless run extended to four matches. And they suffered a blow with regular centre-back Luke DeVere ruled out with a groin strain causing a defensive reshuffle.

Phoenix goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic made an athletic one-handed stop on the goal line to prevent Chianese from forcing a loose ball from a corner over the line. But the Glory forward would not be denied on 18 minutes with a neat, low finish from the edge of the area that beat Marinovic.

Phoenix dangerman Ulises Davila saw a goalbound free-kick fisted away by Liam Reddy, but the New Zealanders were rarely able to turn their territorial dominance into clear-cut chances.

Tony Popovich's men slowed their opponent's momentum after the restart though the Phoenix came close to an equaliser through a Rene Piscopo strike.

Jaushua Sotirio should have pulled his side level with 15 minutes remaining but stabbed his close-range effort wide after Callan Elliot's fine run and cut-back. With just a minute remaining, David Ball saw his effort hit the crossbar and that brought a disappointing end to the Phoenix's best-ever A-League campaign.

The Glory's win means they will tackle premiers Sydney FC on Wednesday in a grand-final rematch.