Popa hails heroes after Glory edges into decider
PERTH Glory coach Tony Popovic praised his side's resilience after they came back from the brink of defeat to beat Adelaide in an epic A-League penalty shootout on Friday night.
Glory coughed up a 2-0 lead during normal time - and a one-goal lead during extra time - as Adelaide sent the semi-final to penalties.
Perth were on the back foot early in the shootout after Diego Castro's penalty was saved.
Glory veteran Brendon Santalab and 21-year-old midfielder Jake Brimmer nailed penalties that denied Adelaide victory.
Glory goalkeeper Liam Reddy pulled off four saves all up in a shootout dominated by the glovemen.
After Reddy's fourth save, Joel Chianese had the chance to win it for Glory. Chianese made no mistake with the spot kick, sending Glory through to the grand final.
Earlier, Glory looked to have the game in the bag when Diego Castro's second goal in the 74th minute gave the home side a 2-0 advantage.
Substitute Papa Diawara gave Adelaide a flicker of hope when he made the most of a goalmouth scrap to score in the 81st minute.
And with just six seconds left in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time, Ryan Kitto fired home the equaliser after Glory failed to clear a corner.
Scott Neville edged Glory ahead in the first period of extra time. But Ryan Kitto levelled the scores with just five minutes remaining in the contest with a powerful header.
Glory will host either Sydney or Melbourne Victory at Optus Stadium next weekend.
Popovic was proud of the way his players kept their cool.
"The character was amazing. In the penalty shootout we stayed composed," he said.
"Jake Brimmer, at 21 years of age, it was a decisive penalty to keep us in it. It just shows how much he's maturing.
"I'm sure that moment will help him in his development. You can't manufacture a moment like that for a young boy. That's the faith we have in him, and he certainly stepped up.
"And then Liam did the rest. I'm delighted for Joel, because he was a bit hard on himself for a header that didn't go where he wanted to go at the end of the game.
"That's another example of how far Joel Chianese has come as a footballer - psychologically to put that aside and make a major contribution in the end."
Popovic believes his group have the mentality to win the grand final.
"I think a game like this really showcases that," he said.
"Big games are determined by a fine line.
"The skill set is one thing. But there's a lot of things you can't measure, you can't get a stat for, which this squad has in abundance.
"These players showed something that maybe previously they didn't believe they had - the resilience, the belief, the character, all the things that really stood out tonight."
PERTH GLORY 3 (Diego Castro 29m, 74m, Scott Neville 104m) ADELAIDE UNITED 3 (BabaDiawara 81m, Ryan Kitto 90+4m, Michael Marrone 115m) after extra time at HBF Park. (Perth Glory won 5-4 on penalties). Crowd:17,868. Referee: Alex King.