Western United ended the Isuzu UTE A-League Men season on a high, securing a 2-1 win over Perth Glory at HBF Park on Saturday night.
Ben Garuccio gave the visitors the lead with his first goal of the season before Perth drew level just before half-time.
A chaotic opening to the second half ultimately resulted in Noah Botic restoring United’s lead, allowing John Aloisi’s men to see out the remainder of the match.
The win meant United finished seventh on the table with nine wins across the campaign, ensuring automatic qualification for the Australia Cup and providing a shot of positivity heading into next season.
Alessandro Diamanti came into the starting line-up for the final match of his professional career, taking up his customary attacking midfield position.
That was one of three changes to the XI as Noah Botic and Leo Lacroix also came in to start, while Sebastian Pasquali lined up in midfield for the second week in a row.
United started the game sharply, taking charge from the first whistle and looking to control possession and play on the front foot.
Diamanti was in the mood in his farewell match, finding plenty of the ball in forward areas and looking to turn and penetrate Perth’s defence at every opportunity.
The Italian maestro had several efforts on goal, one from a free-kick and another trademark chip that sailed just wide of the far post.
United’s dominance eventually paid off in the 25th minute when a slick exchange saw Connor Pain tee up Garuccio in the box, and the United left-back applied the finishing touch with a strong finish between Cameron Cook’s legs.
The visitors continued to push on in search of more goals and came agonisingly close to a second just before half-time.
Dylan Pierias was played in behind but his left-footed effort was saved before falling to Garuccio, who would’ve had a double if not for Jack Clisby’s goal line clearance.
That missed chance proved costly for United as Perth went up the other end and squared the game minutes later when Keegan Jelacic pounced on a giveaway at the back to finish underneath Jamie Young.
Despite all of United’s good work in the first half, that goal left more work to be done in the second period with a win on the minds to close the season.
John Aloisi made a change in goal at half-time as Ryan Scott came on for his first minutes since 2021, replacing Young on his 200th appearance.
After Perth’s late goal in the first half, the hosts nearly delivered another sucker punch when Antonee Burke-Gilroy struck the post before Adam Zimarino found the net on the rebound, but the goal was chalked off by an offside flag.
In a frantic handful of on-pitch minutes, United went back up the other end soon after and put together another swift attacking move to regain the lead.
Pain played a delightful right-footed past around his body to Dylan Pierias running in behind, leaving him with the simple task of putting the ball on a plate for Botic to tap home his sixth goal of the season.
United’s cause was aided just a handful of minutes later when Perth captain Mark Beevers received two yellow cards in quick succession and was sent from the field.
But the Green and Black was unable to affirm that comfort on the scoreboard, though not through lack of trying as Garuccio might well have had a hat-trick on another day, while substitute James Troisi also very nearly found the net.
In the end, an additional goal was never necessary as United saw out the remainder of the contest and brought a difficult season to a close in the best possible fashion.