A shot at redemp­tion

FC all set to avenge ‘18 grand fi­nal loss

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Football - EMMA KEMP

SYD­NEY FC will get the chance to erase last year’s W-League grand-fi­nal pain af­ter fir­ing past Bris­bane Roar and into a block­buster de­cider against Perth Glory.

Matil­das star Caitlin Fo­ord and US im­port Sofia Huerta were the dif­fer­ence in last night’s 2-1 semi-fi­nal win at Dol­phin Sta­dium in Red­cliffe, scor­ing ei­ther side of half­time to set Syd­ney up for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive home grand fi­nal in Syd­ney next week­end.

The com­ing week will no doubt evoke un­pleas­ant mem­o­ries of last sea­son’s grand-fi­nal dev­as­ta­tion, when they fell at the fi­nal hur­dle to Mel­bourne City.

And this time they’ll be up against the might of a Glory side led by the ir­re­press­ible Sam Kerr, who net­ted a hat-trick and set up an­other goal in yes­ter­day’s 4-2 come-from-be­hind semi win over pre­miers Mel­bourne Vic­tory in ex­tra time.

On pa­per Bris­bane fin­ished a point and a place above third-placed Syd­ney, but Ante Juric’s out­fit had the Roar over a bar­rel in the reg­u­lar sea­son, win­ning both matches by a com­bined score of 8-2.

This wasn’t quite the 5-1 maul­ing of De­cem­ber but Bris­bane, down to 10 men for the last 15 min­utes af­ter Natalie Tathem tripped up a through-on-goal Princess Ibini, lacked the cut­ting edge of their vis­it­ing coun­ter­parts de­spite the late sliver of hope pro­vided by Yuki Na­gasato’s stop­page-time con­so­la­tion goal.

The Ja­pa­nese World Cup win­ner’s ter­rific strike was too lit­tle too late, and Syd­ney had al­ready made them pay for mis­takes.

In the 33rd minute Danielle Co­laprico opened up a nap­ping Bris­bane de­fence and found Fo­ord in space for the star for­ward to pivot and place it per­fectly in the top left cor­ner for her 10th goal of the sea­son and sixth against the Roar. The hosts hunted a quick equaliser and were filthy not to be awarded a penalty when Hayley Raso was brought down by Ally Green, the de­fender earn­ing a yel­low card a few min­utes af­ter Raso went into the book for a foul on Green.

That was noth­ing on the con­test’s other clashes.

Two min­utes in Al­lira Toby and Alanna Kennedy clashed heads sick­en­ingly, the Roar for­ward com­ing off sig­nif­i­cantly worse, groggy and bloody and re­quir­ing a patch-up but play­ing on.

Co­laprico got lucky not long be­fore half­time when she rammed into English in­ter­na­tional Chioma Ubo­gagu and es­caped un­pun­ished.

Ibini ran amok, nearly slip­ping an early chance in at Macken­zie Arnold’s near post and whip­ping in a num­ber of threat­en­ing crosses, in­clud­ing one late ef­fort nearly turned into Bris­bane’s net by one of their own de­fend­ers.

Af­ter the break Bris­bane flew out of the blocks and Toby, sport­ing a ban­dage on her fore­head, got in po­si­tion but shot well high, while Raso caused chaos.

An elated Sofia Huerta of Syd­ney FC af­ter scor­ing against Bris­bane Roar, and (be­low) Sam Kerr cel­e­brates a goal for Perth. Main pic­ture: AAP

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