A SUPERB hat-trick from Glory's Billy Celeski ended Sydney FC's unbeaten run under John Kosmina and kept Perth's play-off hopes alive.
It was a night of firsts for Perth with winger Leo Bertos notching his first goal in the Hyundai A-League while Glory recorded their first win against Sydney in nine attempts.
Perth dominated proceedings despite having several of their regular starting XI on the sidelines including leading scorer Jamie Harnwell, defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley, midfielder Mitchell Prentice and captain Simon Colosimo.
With those key personnel absent through injury and suspension the Glory went into the game as rank underdogs but produced arguably their most accomplished display of the season.
The performance also providing further proof the club’s owners have secured the right man to lead Perth forward with Dave Mitchell securing his third win in six matches at the helm.
“It was solid performance all over the park, everyone did their job and that was the key to producing a terrific win,” Mitchell said after the match.
“There is plenty of pride in this group and to rebound the way we did after being stung last weekend showed great character.
“I’m extremely proud of the player’s commitment and let there be no doubt we were up against it tonight, we scaled a huge mountain and can stand proudly on top after 90 minutes of quality football,” Mitchell added.
Mitchell made six changes to his starting line-up and threw the cat amongst the pigeons with regular defender Jamie Coyne pushed up the ground into a defensive midfield position while striker Jerry Karpeh received his first start of the season and proved a handful for the Sydney defence.
With plenty of possession through the midfielder Perth looked the more dangerous side and on 33 minutes Karpeh was let loose by a wonderful through ball from Celeski only to be denied by the quick thinking Clint Bolton in Sydney’s goal who rushed off his line to thwart the attack.
A minute later Perth were rewarded for their intensity when Celeski stole a wayward pass from Sydney defender Mark Milligan and then wrong footed the Olyroos captain to find space in the box and fire over the approaching Bolton.
That was just the start of the Celeski show and two minutes later the youngster had his second and Perth we’re well on their way to a memorable win.
The 22 year old again made Sydney pay for sloppy passing in defence as he dispossessed Terry McFlynn and charged into the box to deliver another delightful chip beyond the reach of Bolton.
The small but vocal group of travelling Glory supporters were in raptures and hardly had time to take their seats after the half time break when they were celebrating again, this time thanks to Bertos who made it three-zip to Perth.
The goal coming after only four minutes had expired in the second period and was the result of some marvellous lead-up play from Coyne and Nick Rizzo.
The speedy left footer chased down a long ball from Coyne and delivered an inviting pass across the face of the Sydney goal where it was met by the onrushing Bertos who managed to weave his way through a maze of Sydney defenders and knock it over the line.
With Sydney stumbling and primed for a knockout punch they managed to breathe some life into the contest when Steve Corica got one back just a minute later.
The veteran midfielder conjuring up a great volley from some 16 yards out to reduce Sydney’s deficit and reviving hopes of getting something out of the match.
Despite a flurry of activity from Sydney in attack there was to be no capitulation from Perth this time and the result was put beyond doubt when Jimmy Downey made a surging run from defence to receive the ball on the left and dash into the penalty area.
The fleet footed youngster blitzed past his marker who could only stop his progress by illegally bringing him down in the area.
Referee Michael Hester showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot, the Glory’s first penalty won this season, and Celeski stepped up to fire the spot-kick into the net and become just the seventh player in A-League history to record a hat-trick.
Perth has in fact recorded three of those hat-tricks with Damian Mori achieving the feat in 2005/06 and Jamie Harnwell in the 2006/07 season.
A late consolation goal by Sydney striker Michael Bridges in the dying moments did little to tarnish a solid gold effort from the Glory who delivered some early festive cheer to their loyal fans and kept the club’s finals dream alive.