W-League grand final lives up to its title
The W-League Grand Final gave the women's game in Australia the statement it deserved17 February 2019 | Matthew Galea
Freelance journalist and corporate media manager
After a build-up dominated by the ongoing controversy surrounding the sacking of former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic and Football Federation Australia's shambolic handling of the matter, Sydney FC and Perth Glory reminded everyone why the women's game is so important to Australian football.
A fantastic W-League Grand Final, which Sydney FC won 4-2, saw both teams displayed outstanding skill, courage and spirit, demonstrated why the women's national team has been one of the world's best in recent years.
The individual battle between Sydney FC's Alanna Kennedy and Perth's Samantha Kerr, the growing stature of Princess Ibini, the endeavour of Chloe Logarzo – who scored an absolute screamer - and the youthful exuberance of four teenagers starting for the Glory.
Factor in the international flare provided by Sydney duo Savannah McCaskill - whose parents arrived in Australia yesterday to see the game - and Sofia Huerta, who scored the other goals for Sydney FC, and it was an exquisite game of football which will live long in the memory of Australian fans.
For all the individual brilliance on display, though, it was the collective efforts of Sydney FC which won the day.
Sydney was far the better-structured side on the day, with the midfield trio of Logarzo, Colaprico and Polias working brilliantly to control the game and sniff out any opportunities for Perth Glory to break away.
On the rare occasion Perth was able to sneak a pass through the middle of the park, Kennedy was more than equipped to deal with the threat of Kerr.
As Kerr became increasingly isolated, she cut a frustrated figure, but despite a tough day at the office, she still showed off her killer instinct to get Perth back into the game in the first half.
With her side 1-0 down following Huerta's absolute belter to open the scoring, Kerr pounced on a poorly cleared ball in Sydney's box to draw a foul and earn a penalty.
The Glory talisman stroked the penalty home to level the scores at 1-1, but Sydney FC weathered the Perth resurgence and managed to take a 2-1 lead into the break thanks to a lovely header from McCaskill on the stroke of half-time.
The second half started and would continue as the first half finished - with Sydney FC firmly in control of proceedings.
McCaskill did not have to wait long for an opportunity to double Sydney's leads and her goal tally for the day to give the home side a well deserved two-goal lead.
It would be hard to argue that Perth deserved to bring the deficit back to one when they pounced on a set-piece opportunity via Alyssa Mautz, but it didn't take long for Logarzo to restore the two-goal lead with one of the goals of the season from outside the box.
Despite putting in a championship performance, Logarzo had to leave the game in agony following a worrying injury, which will leave Matildas fans waiting with bated breath in the hope the damage is not too serious ahead of the World Cup later this year.
The injury was the only blight on an otherwise brilliant day for Sydney FC.
The Sky Blues coach Ante Juric could not have set-up his team any better and his player repaid the faith with spectacular performances.
W-League marquee Kerr will be frustrated that her own brilliant year couldn't be capped off with the ultimate team glory, but the excitement, attention and hype she brought to the competition – backed up by consistently brilliant performances – was worth every cent it cost to bring her back to Perth and to the Australian competition.
It is a shame that the ongoing Matildas shamble - courtesy of the FFA - will not allow for a settled Matildas camp heading into the Cup of Nations and World Cup preparations.
But for now, we should at least remember that even if so much continues to go wrong behind the scenes, Australian footballers continue to impress on it.
Perhaps that will be enough for the Matildas who will chase ultimate glory in France.
At a glance
- Sydney FC, 4 (Sofia Huerta 6'; Savannah McCaskill 41', 61'; Chloe Logarzo 70') v Perth Glory, 2 (Samantha Kerr 23'; Alyssa Mautz 68')
- Crowd: 6,127
- Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
w-league, w-league grand final, sydney fc, perth glory, samantha kerr, ffa, 2019 world cup, #wleaguegf