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Late Castro magic denies Nix A-League win

NZN 4/03/2017 Angelo Risso

Two points lost, not one point gained.

That was the message from both coaches as Perth Glory recovered from two goals down to draw 3-3 with Wellington Phoenix in a topsy-turvy A-League encounter at QBE Stadium

Leading 3-1 after an hour of play through goals from Gui Finkler, Roy Krishna and Kosta Barbarouses, the Nix suffered under a late barrage from the Glory.

Andy Keogh scored in the first half for Perth to make it 2-1 and Adam Taggart reduced the deficit to 3-2 midway through the second half.

Diego Castro produced a second-half masterclass after an anonymous early showing and struck the 81st-minute equaliser.

Handed a free kick on the right edge of the penalty box, last year's Johnny Warren medallist dipped a shot beautifully towards the far post, leaving Glen Moss stranded.

Phoenix co-coach Des Buckingham rued his side's lack of intensity in the final stages, while Glory counterpart Kenny Lowe felt his side could've gone on to claim all three points.

Taggart, Rhys Williams and Castro all had chances to score the winner with the Spaniard wasting a one-on-one opportunity to win the match in stoppage time.

"Dominated the game, had chance after chance and should've actually won," Lowe said.

"The last 30, it was like wagons in a circle for their back four."

The draw lifted the Nix to seventh while the third-placed Glory could fall as low as fifth by the end of the weekend's action.

Buckingham said he was satisfied with four points from two games but felt the side had thrown away a valuable win with a finals spot still up for grabs.

He disagreed with Lowe, saying the Nix had dominated at least an hour of the match before the substitution of Finkler.

The elegant Brazilian playmaker had just returned from two weeks' family leave and wasn't ready to play the full 90 minutes.

"He was quite an important component to how we'd set up and he'd played fantastically well," Buckingham said.

"From the moment he came off we just started to give away free kicks, never really able to establish enough possession on the ball, become threatening."

Krishna and Barbarouses linked for the side's first in the 10th minute, breaking down the middle before Finkler powered home an effort via a deflection.

Krishna then nabbed his own goal in the 25th minute via some old-fashioned route one footballthat resulted in Shane Smeltz playing a pass across the box to Krishna, who beat his man and unleashed a cracking right-foot shot that fizzed past Liam Reddy and into the net.

Perth pulled one back in the 34th minute when Irish target man Andy Keogh took advantage of some half-hearted Nix defending to react first to a long ball and produced a composed left-footed finish.

Witnessing a frenetic first half, the home crowd didn't have to wait long in the second stanza for another goal.

Again breaking down the middle, Barbarouses played the ball to Smeltz before finding space in the box to collect a Krishna pass and curl home a sweet left-foot strike off the inside of the left-hand post.

But the All Whites ace's goal proved a false dawn, as Taggart and an imperious Castro capped off the Glory's late resurgence.

"We're still alive," Buckingham said.

"It's important we go to the Wanderers next week and pick up another win, and take seven points from three games."

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