A-League: Perth have defeated Melbourne City to move one step closer to an A-League grand final appearance.
MELBOURNE City limped out of the A-League finals with one of the worst finals performances of all-time.
There were jeers at the final whistle from home fans after Perth Glory won the elimination final 2-0 as a City season that promised so much ended in a whimper.
Johnny Warren medallist Diego Castro ran amok, scoring and assisting for Joel Chianese to secure the win with Glory to now face Premier’s Plate winners Sydney FC in Saturday’s semi-final.
ANALYSIS: City not showing return on investment
The listless City performance was inexcusable considering what was at stake, as Glory keeper Liam Reddy was not tested until three minutes into stoppage time.
City was bereft of ideas, fluency and urgency in front of 9944 fans at AAMI Park, completely disjointed in terms of style and structure.
The most expensive team in A-League history and a squad that Luke Brattan described as better than all-conquering Brisbane Roar played like individuals.
Yet earlier in the season they had the mojo, but Sunday night couldn’t have been a bigger contrast from their fluid, sharp and dynamic performances from months back.
Fernando Brandan is the only player missing from back then, though John van’t Schip was coach.
A-League: Melbourne City coach Michael Valkanis talks to the media following a loss to Perth Glory.
Questions have to be asked of coach Michael Valkanis, with City a shadow of the side that won the FFA Cup since van’t Schip left.
City sprung a selection shock, dropping fringe Socceroo Brattan as Ruon Tongyik came into the XI while Osama Malik pushed into midfield but it backfired spectacularly.
Glory predictably lined up deep, with two banks of four, though Castro often pushed forward to create an outlet with Andy Keogh and Adam Taggart up front.
City struggled to cope with Glory’s swift transition, though even when they got into position they gave the visitors too much time and space.
A-League: Glory coach Kenny Lowe details the steps his side took to beat Melbourne City for a second straight week.
The opener came on 16 minutes when Castro was released by Keogh down the left and when it appeared the chance was lost, he cut inside to manufacture some space before threading it home as City’s defence showed no urgency.
Then right-winger Joel Chianese exploited a hole as City turned the ball over cheaply, before cutting in and finishing on his left foot on 30 minutes.
With City never having come back from two goals down to win in its seven-year history, it was always going to be an uphill battle but the lack of fight was most alarming.
Valkanis made a double sub at the break, with Brattan and Nick Fitzgerald coming on while Tongyik and Bruce Kamau were hooked.
Tim Cahill headed wide after the break but between that and Ivan Franjic forcing a fingertip save from Reddy in stoppage time, City barely gave a yelp.
Marquee Nicolas Colazo came off in the 71st minute in what may be his last game for the club and while he underwhelmed, it was difficult finding a good player for City as the post-mortem begins.
PERTH GLORY 2 (Diego Castro 16m, Joel Chianese 30m) MELBOURNE CITY 0 at AAMI Park. Crowd: 9,944. Referee: Chris Beath.
Originally published as City’s season ends with a whimper