Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said his side played some of the best football of his tenure as they ran out 3-1 winners over Perth Glory at Parramatta Stadium.
The Australia Day clash was billed as a big test for the Wanderers given the Glory’s excellent run of form but the hosts never relented, dominating all night.
Popovic claimed his players never lost faith in the game plan despite coming into the match on the back of back-to-back defeats.
“I think in the first half we were outstanding in every aspect of our game. The only thing that wasn’t outstanding which was the score line at half-time which could have been anything. But I’m really pleased with the performance,” he said. “We did lose two in a row, that’s a fact, and you can’t hide away from that but there was no talk of that at the club."
Popovic said some of the football was that good that he couldn’t remember the last time his team so completely dominated a full game.
“We wanted to start on the front foot. We’re at home, we’ve been playing well at home and we wanted to show that and from the outset. It was excellent,” he said. “Some of the football we played tonight – I have to think back a fair bit to think when we last played that way. It was outstanding.”
Shinji Ono’s superb display, especially in the first half, also drew praise from the coach, saying it was an overdue showing.
“He was excellent. That’s been coming from “Shin” for a long time,” he said. “We’ve seen patches of his brilliance and I’m just really pleased for him. I wish he had a goal as well, which he deserved. But that’s the next step for him and I’m sure the goals will come.”
Matthew Spiranovic’s switch to defensive midfield caught everyone by surprise but Popovic said he knew the Socceroo had the capacity to pull it off.
“He’s got the quality to play in there, that’s a fact. Even when he went to Germany, he played a few games as a midfielder, so it’s not foreign to him,” he said. “I thought he added some steel which I feel, against Adelaide and Melbourne Victory, we probably lacked a little. He really helped control the game with Aaron [Mooy].”
Perth boss Kenny Lowe conceded that his side were second best on the night and, apart from a brief second-half flourish, never looked like taking a point.
“It should have been over by half-time,” he said. “At 2-0, they were good value and it should have been more. I thought “Vukes” [goalkeeper Danny Vukovic] was outstanding, he kept us in the game.”
Lowe said the reasons why the Glory failed to keep pace were all to obvious from his vantage point.
“I thought the Wanderers were quicker, stronger, faster and picked up every first ball, dominated the tempo and dictated play,” he said. “We’ve got to aspire to get to that level.”
Asked if there was anything he could do in the short-term to lift the side, Lowe cheekily replied: “Pray”.