Lithuanian international Darvydas Sernas scored one of the goals of the season to salvage a 1-1 draw for Perth Glory against Melbourne Victory at nib Stadium on Friday night.
Sernas was only cleared to make his A-League debut on Friday morning and had an instant impact when he came off the bench at half-time.
The 29-year-old was initially denied entry to the pitch by the fourth official because he was wearing illegal socks, leaving Glory with 10 men to start the second half.
After quickly changing his socks, Sernas made his presence felt with a deadly strike from outside the penalty box in the 50th minute that flew past a hapless Nathan Coe and secured a vital point for the home side.
The goal sent the parochial Perth crowd into a frenzy and even sparked wild celebrations from Glory coach Kenny Lowe.
Victory took the lead in the 37th minute through a penalty to Gui Finkler after Jack Clisby tugged at Archie Thompson’s shirt as the veteran striker attempted to pass him on the goal-line.
Kevin Muscat’s side came into the match on the back of consecutive 5-0 losses, but the Victory coach persisted with his usual 4-2-2-2 structure, albeit with a few personnel changes.
Socceroos hopeful Tom Rogic, on loan from Celtic, made his first start for Victory and was a standout in the opening half as both teams struggled to create chances.
Rogic showed his class with a powerful strike that hit the crossbar in the 34th minute, nearly catching out an off Glory defence.
Victory dictated terms in the first half by defending quite high as a sluggish Glory lacked any attacking prowess.
Star striker Shane Smeltz was one player who struggled to have an impact because of the Victory’s midfield dominance and some close marking from centre backs Nick Ansell and Pablo Contreras.
However, the game was turned on its head after Sernas was introduced and Glory was the better of the two sides in the second half.
Steven McGarry almost put Glory ahead in the 54th minute, but his header from a Chris Harold cross was agonisingly wide of the target.
Andrew Nabbout had the best chance of securing maximum points for Victory in the 74th minute when he was the beneficiary of a counterattack, but his shot skidded horribly off the side of his boot after being sent clean through on goal.
Glory suffered a late injury scare when marquee defender William Gallas was forced off with a leg injury after landing awkwardly following an aerial contest.
Perth Glory 1 (Sernas 50m)
Melbourne Victory 1 (Finkler 37m pen)
Crowd: 10,151 at nib Stadiumcomments