Perth Glory put the pressures of the border closure backflip and an unknown future behind them to score a famous 2-1 victory over A-League heavyweight Sydney on Saturday.
The morale boosting win, that came on the back of a resilient defensive display at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, lifted Glory off the bottom of the ladder into eighth, just two points off the top six.
The opening goal came from Glory captain and former Sydney favourite Brandon O’Neill who shot home on 55 minutes after Sydney goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne failed to hold a searing Jack Clisby shot.
The goal brought a dull game to life and Glory defended desperately as Sydney went in search of an equaliser.
But coach Richard Garcia was not prepared to sit back on the lead and brought on dual international firepower in star signing Daniel Sturridge and veteran Andy Keogh from the bench on the hour.
Before the game Sturridge said he was looking forward to joining Bruno Fornaroli up front and it was the Uruguayan who sealed the game with an excellent finish with five minutes remaining.
Sydney were given a late lifeline with a penalty, crashed home in the 93rd minute by Anthony Caceres, but it was too late.
Sturridge threw a scare into the Glory camp when he looked to have tweaked a hamstring. Garcia said the star felt tightness and would be assessed by medical staff.
Glory were rank outsiders, having last beaten Sydney at home six years ago, with just one win in the last 17 meetings.
Garcia was delighted by the way his side responded.
“It’s been a very tough few months. The unknown is always very difficult to deal with,” Garcia said
“They were outstanding tonight.
“The way they have bounced back from the setbacks is very pleasing.
“Everyone in the change room has each other’s back. They are learning to adapt with what is going on.
“The boys put pressure on themselves because they know they are capable of so much more.
“It’s a stepping stone in the right direction. Now it’s maintaining that and building off that.”
Both sides were cautious in a first-half that lacked intensity with plenty of turnovers and few real opportunities.
Glory closed down Sydney’s space and looked more dangerous on attack.
They caused problems with some telling crosses while Elvis Kamsoba’s sharp cross that evaded a lunging Bobo was Sydney’s only real opportunity.
O’Neill’s goal brought life to the game with chances at both ends.
Sturridge showed some classy touches, in particular sending a beautiful ball into the box to Adrian Sardinero but his point blank shot was blocked by Redmayne.
Glory goalkeeper Cameron Cook made one of few saves, stopping a Patrick Yazbek shot, but Fornaroli sealed the three points.