Assistant coach Ian Crook admits it’s starting to feel a bit like Groundhog Day for Western Sydney Wanderers FC after they were beaten by Guangzhou in an ACL five-goal thriller on Wednesday night.
The Wanderers pushed their more highly-fancied opponents hard but were undone by a hat-trick to classy Brazilian Ricardo Goulart to lose 3-2 at Parramatta Stadium.
“For us it’s disappointing to get beaten. It seems as though we are having to swallow a few of these of late,” Crook said.
“The positive side is we’ve shown again we’re on the right track and I’m sure when it does turn for us it will turn in a big way.
“The players they have in their side have fantastic ability and the small little mistakes are costing us.
“They’re things we’re going to have to eradicate but it’s not for the want of trying. The boys aren’t making those mistakes deliberately but it’s costing us.”
After trailing 1-0 at the break the Wanderers got back into the contest through Iacopo La Rocca’s equaliser, only to fall behind again just two minutes later.
Goulart completed his hat-trick midway through the second half before the Wanderers set up a grand-stand finish thanks to a goal from Romeo Castelen in stoppage time.
“I thought we were going to get something at the end,” Crook admitted.
“We knew we might have one more chance [after Castelen’s equaliser] and it was a great ball from [Yojiro] Takahagi that found Kerem [Bulut] and it just got stuck under his feet.
“He puts his shot anywhere else and it’s 3-3.”
The result was a small piece of revenge for Guangzhou, who were eliminated by the Wanderers at the quarter-final stage of last year’s competition.
The big-spending Chinese champions are one of the favourites for this year’s ACL but Crook feels the Wanderers are more than able to compete with their star-studded roster.
“Last year they had [Alberto] Gilardino, Elkeson who is one of the best players in Asia and Diamanti and we competed with them last year,” he said.
“This time it’s Goulart and Elkeson and Gao Lin, they’ve got quality all over the park but so do we and I thought it was a great game tonight.
“We were just on the wrong end of the result.”