Sydney FC snapped the Western Sydney Wanderers’ 10-game winning run in the A-League with a 1-1 draw at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday night.
In a pulsating derby played in front of almost 20,000 fans, both sides finished with 10 men after straight red cards to Sydney skipper Brett Emerton and Wanderers defender Iacoppo La Rocca.
The Sky Blues looked on course for a huge upset when another expert finish from Alessandro Del Piero gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at the break.
But the contest took a turn towards the Wanderers 10 minutes after the restart when Emerton was shown a straight red for a lunging tackle on Shannon Cole.
And the home side made their numerical advantage count, with Shannon Cole coming back to haunt his former club with a stunning free-kick to share the spoils.
The result not only snaps the Wanderers’ winning streak but also means their minor premiership celebrations have to be put on hold.
Tony Popovic’s side are still in the box seat to claim the silverware and will secure it with a draw in their final game against Newcastle next weekend or if Central Coast fail to beat Adelaide on Sunday.
A draw for Sydney keeps them in fifth position but their finals fate will be sealed in a do-or-die clash away to Brisbane Roar on Thursday night.
In Saturday’s other A-League clash, Joshua Risdon scored a 94th-minute winner as Perth Glory kept their finals hopes alive with a 3-2 win over Melbourne Victory.
In what may be a season-defining win for last season’s runners-up, the Glory went behind early on as Adrian Leijer nodded home in the 13th minute before Perth responded with goals to Chris Harold and Travis Dodd before the break.
Down on numbers, Victory coach Ange Postecoglou turned to his youngsters and they delivered with a minute remaining in controversial circumstances as Connor Pain burst down the left and controlled a ball that appeared to have crossed the line.
The linesman failed to raise his flag, though, and it allowed Pain to cross to Scott Galloway, whose cutback was fired in by Chris Cristaldo.
But as the Glory’s season appeared to be slipping away up stepped Risdon, the left defender coolly taking a quality ball from Jack Clisby before turning onto his left and curling it home past a helpless Nathan Coe for his first Glory goal.