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Mar 23, 2013

Glory bt Victory 3-2 in A-League thriller

Perth Glory strengthened their A-League finals pulse with an injury-time Josh Risdon winner sealing a spectacular 3-2 win over Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Risdon bent home a superb goal four minutes into stoppage time after the Victory had pinched a disputed late equaliser through substitute Cris Cristaldo in the 89th minute.

The stunning win lifts last season's grand finalists into the top six.

The Glory still need other results to go their way this weekend and perhaps in the last round of fixtures to make the finals.

But they have a great opportunity to become a finals wrecking ball after delightfully crafted first-half goals to Chris Harold and Travis Dodd, and the brilliance of midfielder Liam Miller and goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, were capped by Risdon's late moment of magic.

With both teams undermanned, the Victory took an early lead through skipper Adrian Leijer's 13th-minute header.

But driven by perhaps the most underrated of the A-League's high-end imports in Irishman Miller, the Glory took control for the rest of the first half.

Both goals were created by Miller's superb vision - his pinpoint cross on 21 minutes met by a spectacular Harold volley to smash in off the left-hand post.

Miller and the equally busy Ryo Nagai created the second, seven minutes before halftime, with some delightful front-third interplay with Dodd.

The former Socceroo met Nagai's cross from the left in traffic with purpose to put his side deservedly in front.

Desperately missing their internationals, Mark Milligan, Archie Thompson and Marco Rojas, the Victory suffered another blow when Marcos Flores limped off injured less than an hour into the match.

The Argentine midfielder was playing his first match in five weeks after quadriceps and back problems.

Victory curtailed Miller's influence late in the second half and had their best period of the match as they chased an equaliser - two Vukovic saves denying them.

First, Victory youngster Connor Pain's goal-bound shot was saved by a high-diving Vukovic, before he produced an even better stop from the resulting corner.

Somehow, he managed to get a hand to Leijer's downward close-range header to deny the Victory.

But then, Cristaldo netted in the 89th minute after a superb run from Pain spoon-fed him the chance to slot home.

However, replays showed the ball had been run over the sideline earlier in the movement - and the Glory were livid the goal was allowed to stand.

It mattered little just minutes later as Risdon's winner gave the Glory a deserved win - just days after interim coach Alistair Edwards' appointment was made permanent.

Edwards was thrilled with his side's character to grab all three points just minutes after their finals hopes looked dashed.

"Knowing that we had to win to really give ourselves a chance to make the finals, it was fantastic," Edwards said.

"Our motto has been 'stay in the game - no matter what'. It just shows you there's a great morale amongst the boys.

"Since I've come into the club, I can't fault the morale, the camaraderie and their willingness to take new things on board."

Victory coach Ange Postecoglou was disappointed with what he termed a lack of effort from his team, particularly in their poor first half.

The Victory have already sewn up a home final despite their loss.

"I didn't see 14 footballers fighting for their lives today. Maybe it's because they did have players missing, and they thought that people would accept defeat," Postecoglou said.

"We were poor tonight - poor in every way, shape and form."

Meanwhile, Postecoglou said the problem which forced Flores off appeared to be cramp.

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