The rewards are sweet for a Perth Glory side who finished top of the table and claimed the Premiers Plate and the luxury of having the week-off, leading into their home semi-final at HFB Park.
Where Adelaide United by contrast, went through an epic 120-minute Elimination final win against Melbourne City and a five day turn around.
No-one from the Reds are complaining as Craig Goodwin said “it is what it is.” As they believe that they deserve nothing more than a Grand Final spot.
Glory are keen and desperate to get things going as Andy Keogh said, “the wait is too long.” The west is best, their famous ‘shed's’ passionate fans having the edge over United, winning two of their last three meetings.
120 minutes of football and a penalty shoot-out started as a cagey affair from both sides, moving the ball around the park. Jason Davidson's cross for Dino Djublic's header hit against the cross bar and then bounced down onto the goal line, acted as an early warning for Adelaide.
On the 30th minute mark, sublime play from Alex Tobin award winner Diego Castro with a delightful back heel flick to Chris Ikonomidis, then his returned pass, sliding Castro into the penalty area, who perfectly slotted the past Paul Izzo near left -hand side, six-yards out.
It was all about Perth in the second-half, Adelaide United looked off-the-pace and it was Castro again who seemingly put the contest to bed.
The Reds did pull one back through Baba Diawara's toe-poke in the penalty area and in the 95th minute the Reds equalised, when they did look finished, but Ryan Kitto picked up the ball inside the eight-yard area and fired the ball into the back of the net. Echoes of the European Champion League semi-finals anyone?
Another epic final in the A-league: fresh legs of Scott Neville coolly headed Perth into the lead in extra time, as Paul Izzo was scrambling to get across to save from Davidson's cross. Hats off to Adelaide, they have shown a huge amount of character, as Michael Marrone headed the ball into the back of the net 3-3, taking the game to a penalty shoot- out.
PENALTY SHOOTOUT: BLOW BY BLOW
Adelaide United go first.
Craig Goodwin cheeky shot straight down the centre of the goal but scores…1-0
Juande powerful strike into the roof of the net…1-1
Jorden Elsey sweet penalty kick deep into the low of Reddy left-hand side….2-1
Castro saved by Paul Izzo…remains 2-1 to the Reds
Vince Lia give the Reds 3-1 lead coolly taken penalty shot into the left-hand side
Santalab scores with confidence 3-2 to United
Isaias missed and saved by Reddy diving low to his right-hand side…3-2
Reddy scores his penalty against Izzo…3-3
Ben Halloran nice strike putting Reds 4-3 in front.
Jake Brimmer well taken penalty kick 4-4
Baba Diawara saved by Reddy diving to his right-hand side again 4-4
Jason Davidson to seal victory but Izzo saves the penalty…4-4 still
Nikola saved again to his left hand-side Adelaide can’t get the penalty right
Lowry penalty save by Izzo, wow 4-4 still
Nathan saved by Reddy, four saves so far and again his right-hand side…4-4
Chianese scores for Perth and sends Glory into the Grand Final….5-4
Liam REDDY – 8
Comfortable first-half for the shot-stopper, taking the ball well, coming off his line when he has to, couldn’t do anything about the two goals, too many bodies in front of him. Four massive saves from the penalty shoot-out.
Shane LOWRY – 7.5
Strong defensive headers, looked comfortable on the ball, holding his line well, always a solid presence. Well played.
Matthew SPIRANOVIC – 7.5
Went about his business, alongside Lowry, showed how commanding they both are as the first-half went on. Another solid performance from the central defender.
Dino DJULBIC – 7.5
Fantastic effort on goal, his header smashing against the cross bar bouncing just on the goal line. Showed great character throughout the match
Jason DAVIDSON – 7.5
Finding space early on throughout the left-hand side, put in a pin-point cross into the box for Djulbic effort. Had a wild shot on goal but why not? Played extremely well kept trying to work down the wings.
Ivan FRANJIC – 7.5
Finding so much joy and space down the right-hand side, whipping in some delightful crosses, causing all sorts of trouble for Kitto and the Reds defence in general. Busy all game, gave Perth good width. Subbed 96th minute
Neil KILKENNY – 7
He has only missed one game this season. Hasn’t trained all week due to a concern about his injury but never less he is still putting in an honest shift. Reads the play really well, good anticipation from Reds' forward play. Subbed 96th minute
JUANDE – 7
Working hard in midfield, getting on the ball when he can, shifting the ball linking up with his team-mates.
Chris IKONOMIDIS – 8
Inch perfect return pass back to Castro for the opening goal. Fantastic close ball control, finding space on the left-hand side, far too quick for Marrone to deal with. A strong run through the midfield carrying the ball deep into Adelaide’s defensive final third and supplied a perfect pass to Castro to score. You can see why he is in the Socceroos squad
Diego CASTRO – 8.5
Alex Tobin award winner. World class back heel to Ikonomidis who duly passes the ball back and he coolly slots the ball past Izzo near post.
So much space and time to find his passes in the final third. Second-half terrorising United defence with his close ball control, weaving between defence. Another goal for the Spaniard cutting inside and again slots the ball past Izzo, 74th minute.
Andy KEOGH – 7
Holds the ball up extremely well with his body strength, playing in the midfield and attacking players, finding team-mates with his passes. Subbed 83rd minute
Scott NEVILLE – 7
On for Franjic. Brings much needed pace down the right-handed side, gives Perth the lead through a coolly taken header, good sub for Perth.
Jake BRIMMER – 6
On for Kilkenny. Played his part, worked well when he came on the field.
Joel CHIANESE – 6
On for Keogh. Scored the winning penalty in the shoot-out.
Brendon SANTALAB – 6
On for Ikonomidis. Didn’t really make an impact but he must have had strict instruction from Popovic to be a menace.
Paul IZZO – 7
Brilliant touch to deny Perth, touching the ball onto the crossbar. Too sloppy and slow getting down to stop Castro’s shot.
Got down low to deny Franjic a shot on goal which was going in, scrambling across to try and stop Neville's header giving Perth a 3-2 lead in extra time. Even though he had a good game against a very good side.
Scott GALLOWAY – 7
He might be going to Melbourne City but he started well, but slowly got drawn further back and trying to get forward but tracked back well. Subbed 100th minute.
Michael JAKOBSEN – 7
Nothing flash, just held his position really, moving the ball between his fellow defenders. Subbed 80th minute.
Michael MARRONE – 5.5
Poor decisions in challenges, mixed game, poor clearances, getting caught too high up, sloppy, off the game, terrible passes and generally wasteful. Look, even though he pops up and scores, to level 3-3, besides that he didn’t have a solid enough game to impress.
Ryan KITTO – 7.5
I think he has found his position and since he has taken the role because of Ryan Strain's injury, Kitto worked hard all game and then came up with the last kick of the 90 minutes to equalise.
Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS – 7.5
Just a simple touch would have put United in front from Goodwin's cross but unlucky.
Decent shot on goal but nothing to threaten Reddy. Looks lively in the final third trying to create. Even with an injury he still works hard for his team.
Mirko BOLAND – 5
He has never looked the part in the midfield for Adelaide and again he was quiet in the first half, off the pace in the attacking midfield position, not strong enough. Out for three months with injury, dropping too deep, not effective. Subbed 74th minute.
Isaías SÁNCHEZ – 6
Played every minute for United but he did have an average game by his standards, outplayed in the midfield by Castro, producing a yellow card for himself.
George BLACKWOOD – 6
Never got into the game through poor control in the final third early on, quiet first half, shut out by Perth’s disciplined defence. Positioning is poor. Subbed 58th minute
Craig GOODWIN – 7.5
Kept fighting to the end, committed runs down the left-hand side, whipping in dangerous crosses for Perth to deal with. Got tired towards the end but it was understandable due to the immense effort he put in.
Ben HALLORAN – 7.
Working hard in his defensive duties but he needs to be up the park more, poor first touch, needs to control the ball better.
Tracking back really well in extra time. Had a fantastic chance to score but the shot went straight to Reddy. Looked a little off the pace, a mixed game from the match winner in the final but he did keep working hard.
Baba DIAWARA – 6
On for Blackwood. Off balance, off the pace, off match fitness, dropping too deep to pick up the ball. But he pops up and scores in the 81st minute sticking his right boot out.
Jordan ELSEY – 6
On for Jakobsen. Worked hard when coming on the field of play.
Nikola MILEUSNIĆ – 5
On for Boland. Finding a good amount of space down the right-hand side, needs to hold the ball better and to be fair Adelaide really needed him to do more with his pace.
Vince Lia – 6
On for Scott Galloway. Played his part in steading the Reds' ship, good performance, solid sub by Marco Kurz.