Former Liverpool star Daniel Sturridge has made his most meaningful contribution of the Isuzu UTE A-League season to help Perth secure a 1-1 draw with Western Sydney at HBF Park.
Sturridge entered Saturday night’s match having made just five cameos off the bench for a total of 93 minutes.
But he made the most of his first start of the season, setting up Bruno Fornaroli’s 18th-minute strike.
Sturridge, who was playing his first match since tearing his groin on February 23, was subbed off at halftime with Glory leading 1-0.
A low drive from Wanderers substitute Keijiro Ogawa in the 78th minute helped the visitors secure a deserved point, having unleashed 25 shots to nine.
Sturridge was starved of possession and he never got out of third gear when the opportunity to sprint presented itself.
But his classy touches proved crucial in Glory grabbing the lead against the run of play.
Perth boss Ruben Zadkovich said: “He’s (Sturridge) not moving as free as he once was but you can see the quality he has on the ball, his mind ticking a few cogs ahead of the rest of the group and with some genuine A-League pace around (him and Bruno) … but we’re just lacking a bit of pace.”
What could have been?
“Correct, a lot of that stuff is a product of circumstance – it has not been an easy time for the club, squad and staff.
“It was nice to get Sturridge out there with Bruno and let the fans (get behind them).”
The Wanderers dominated the first half, enjoying a remarkable 81 per cent possession, winning six corners to nil, and firing 11 shots to two.
But during the rare times Glory went forward, Sturridge and Fornaroli were there to show their class.
Sturridge thought he had set up the opening goal of the match in the 12th minute when his beautiful sliding pass unleashed Antonee Burke-Gilroy, who squared the ball across for Nicholas Fitzgerald to score.
Glory players were left fuming when the goal was disallowed for offside, with replays showing the call was for Fitzgerald before he was involved in the play.
Perth thought they had been robbed again when Fornaroli’s beautifully curled strike from a tight angle was also ruled out for offside.
Sturridge was again the key to setting up the play, with the 32-year-old producing a series of step-overs before firing off the pass.
The VAR eventually deemed Fornaroli had been onside when he received the deflected ball.
Retiring Glory striker Andy Keogh entered the field of play in the 81st minute for his final ALM appearance.
And he was in the thick of the action when he sparked a melee in the dying minutes of the match.
Keogh bowled over opponent Keanu Baccus in frustration after the Wanderers speedster had cynically tugged the shirt of Glory striker Joshua Anasmo to stop a fast break.
After tempers were finally cooled, Keogh, Baccus, and James Troisi were all given yellow cards.
The draw snapped a six-game losing streak for Glory.