D’Agostino proves Perth’s depth of talent

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Perth Glory’s decision to give Nicholas D’Agostino a maiden start for the club proved to be an inspired one when the young Australian rose high in the box and headed home an 89th minute equaliser at HBF Park.

The headed goal levelled Glory’s clash with Melbourne Victory at 2-2, but having chased the game all night, D’Agostino had two more opportunities in stoppage time to take all three points.

As Tony Popovic and his staff try and manage player load ahead of the club’s first ever AFC Champions League campaign, the young Australian striker was a part of a front three that did not include Diego Castro and only briefly featured Chris Ikonomidis.

D’Agostino was also the hero for the national under 23’s team, as they sealed their spot at the 2020 Olympics. He was the sole goal scorer in the third-place playoff against Uzbekistan less than a week ago.

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“We’re really happy for him to get a goal – because he’s fatigued. He’s had a busy time away, it’s difficult to spend time away and then come back and perform straight away.” Popovic said.

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“He’s looked confident and he had that power in the final minutes where he probably could have scored a couple more goals and that’s a credit to him and the confidence he’s brought back,

“He’s injury free so we really will do everything we can to maintain that and there’s a lot more improvement in him, so hopefully that will come over the next few weeks.”

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It was smooth finishes and slalom runs through opposition defences that impressed so many during the Olyroos trip and his previous tenure at Brisbane Roar, but it was his repeated jumping ability in the box that caught the eye against Victory.

“He’s always had that (his jumping ability), he had that at Brisbane. He’s always been very effective in the air, he’s a little bit deceiving because he rises and he can hang, he can wait for the ball,” Popovic said.

“It’s a shame he didn’t get those couple of headers at the end after he equalised. Hopefully next time he’ll get the winner as well.”

Popovic admitted that despite his good performances on national duty, the club had expected D’Agostino to take some time to readjust to the club environment and were thrilled with his application on return.

“The boy came back, the first couple of sessions we weren’t exactly sure how he would look. Would he be sharp? Would he look fatigued after the exertions overseas?

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“He looked really good in training and he was buoyant and confident and our decision ended up being would he start or would he come off the bench?

“In the end we went for the start and we’re really happy for him to have scored.”

This clash was Glory’s first start without any of the front three that won them the premiership last year and D’Agostino’s good form is sure to put pressure on his more esteemed teammates in the second half of the season.

An injury to Ikonomidis just 12 minutes after coming onto the pitch in the second half may open the door for D’Agostino to start even after Diego Castro returns to the side.

Joel Chianese started in place of Ikonomidis but struggled for the same impact he’s had this season.

Feature Image Credit: Darren Speedie

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