Castro double guides Glory past Jets
FORMER Socceroo Rhys Williams earned a surprise playing recall as Diego Castro scored a brace to inspire Perth Glory to a 3-2 win over Newcastle Jets at nib Stadium.
Castro fired home two first-half goals to end a personal scoring drought before Adam Taggart secured the victory with a mid-air volley to keep Perth's top-three ambitions alive.
But the Spanish maestro's brilliance was partially overshadowed by the return of Williams, who came off the bench to play his first A-League game in almost two months.
Williams came on for a hobbled Shane Lowry in the 39th minute in his first appearance since starting in an embarrassing 2-1 defeat to the Jets at the same venue on December 10.
The minutes marked an end to the deadlock between Glory officials and the disgruntled defender.
Williams had been repeatedly overlooked at the selection table as his requests to leave the club during last month's transfer window were denied.
The 28-year-old covered the ground well despite his time out of the game and played on after sustaining a head knock deep in defence during stoppage time.
His injection into the play was triggered after Lowry came off second best from a collision and was forced from the pitch with a right thigh injury.
Castro had not scored for five matches leading into Saturday night's contest, but was on fire early and drew a panicked trip from Newcastle captain Nigel Boogaard inside the penalty area in the 12th minute to open the scoring.
The marquee signing slammed the ball into the net from the spot before stepping up to give Glory back the lead in the 42nd minute.
The Spaniard weaved around Newcastle defender Daniel Mullen before beating keeper Jack Duncan at the near post with a deft strike that lifted his goal tally to six for the season.
Starting in goal for the first time in his A-League career, Nick Feely made a series of strong saves in the absence of suspended stopper Liam Reddy.
But the former Celtic signing couldn't keep out a first-half header from Andrew Hoole and a powerful strike from Jason Hoffman in the 71st minute as Newcastle threatened to snatch a draw.
Williams gave away a free kick on the edge of the penalty area as Glory survived several nervous moments in the game's final 20 minutes.
Taggart's sixth goal in his past eight matches ultimately clinched the critical win.
The 23-year-old intercepted a curving shot from Josh Risdon in the 59th minute to knock the ball into an open net to the delight of the 12,903-strong crowd.
The victory guaranteed Perth retained their grip on fifth spot, just four points shy of third-placed Brisbane Roar with nine rounds left before finals.
It capped off a triumphant day for the Glory, with the women's side earlier romping to a 5-1 semi-final victory over Sydney FC to qualify for next Sunday's W-League grand final.
American import Vanessa DiBernardo scored Glory's opener from a first-half penalty before finding the net in the 77th minute after the visitors had conceded an own goal.
Late goals from Rosie Sutton and Shawn Billam guaranteed Glory's shot at a maiden championship.
They will play the winner of Sunday night's semi-final between Canberra United and Melbourne City at GIO Stadium.