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2018/19 Australian A League, Regular Season
  • Andy Keogh (24', 31')
  • Diego Castro (51')
  • Christopher Ikonomidis (65')
  • Brendon Santalab (83')

Diego Castro stars as Perth Glory put five past Wellington Phoenix

Wellington Phoenix will face Melbourne Victory in week one of the A-League finals after they were thrashed 5-0 by Perth.

A first-half double to Andy Keogh set the Glory on their way, with Diego Castro, Chris Ikonomidis and Brendon Santalab adding goals after the break to secure the easy victory on Sunday evening at HBF Park for the Premiers Plate winners. The Glory produced so many chances they could have easily finished with eight goals or more against a second-string Phoenix outfit. Castro was the man of the match, with the Spanish magician playing a role in all five goals.

The Phoenix's hopes of finishing fourth and earning a home final were already dashed on Thursday night when Adelaide United beat Brisbane 5-3. It meant Wellington could finish only fifth or sixth.

The Phoenix entered their match against Perth knowing a loss of two goals or more would pit them in an away elimination final on Friday night against Victory. Any better result and they would have finished fifth, meaning an away showdown with Adelaide in a sudden-death final.

On paper, an away clash with defending champions Victory looks like a horror situation. But the Phoenix will take confidence from having drawn all three of this season's league matches against Victory -- two of which were in Melbourne.

Glory coach Tony Popovic made six changes to his starting line-up, bringing back key players Castro, Keogh, Matthew Spiranovic, Ikonomidis, Jason Davidson and Dino Djulbic. In contrast, Phoenix coach Mark Rudan rested skipper Andrew Durante, goalkeeper Filip Kurto and Alex Rufer. Newly-crowned golden boot winner Roy Krishna and Michal Kopczynski only made cameo appearances from the bench.

"They were at full strength. We certainly weren't," Rudan said. "We used the game for our own purposes, and we got what we needed out of the game.

"Result - irrelevant. I told the boys straight away that we're preparing for Victory, and it's all about finals football. It was all about the bigger picture. "We did what we needed to do. We got some minutes into the players that needed to get the minutes."

Glory coach Tony Popovic was proud of his team's effort.

"We sensed that the performance would be good all week," Popovic said. "We've seen them train and their attitude has been excellent. They wanted to put on a good performance, and they did." Adelaide will host Melbourne City on Sunday in the other elimination final. Perth and second-placed Sydney FC have a bye in week one before hosting a semi-final.