Brendon Santalab has once again proven himself to be the ultimate super sub, coming up with a brilliant late goal to give the Wanderers a 2-1 win over Perth Glory on Friday night.
All the goals came in a lively second half with Andy Keogh’s penalty cancelling out Romeo Castelen’s sensational opener in a frantic two-minute period.
But Santalab would have the final say, scoring with an audacious lob of Ante Covic to snap the Wanderers three-game winless run and keep them at the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder.
The defeat for Glory ends their club record five-game winning streak but they remain right in the hunt for the top six.
1-0 Castelen (62’) – Keeper Liam Reddy started a lightning counter attack, throwing the ball to Mark Bridge near halfway who in turn found Mitch Nichols in space. Nichols fed Castelen to the left of the box, the winger cutting inside and firing a low shot which hit the post and went in.
1-1 Keogh (64’) – Chris Harold’s pace saw him get around Nikolai Topor-Stanley before the defender hauled him down in the box for a penalty which Keogh coolly converted.
2-1 Santalab (85’) – Bridge played a delicate chip over the top of the Glory back four, with Santalab timing his run brilliantly to chip the ball up over Covic and before it fell in just underneath the crossbar.
Just minutes after getting back on level terms, Harold had a great chance to give Glory the lead. Diego Castro wriggled free of his marker on the right before delivering an inch-perfect cross on the head of Harold just six yards out and right in the centre of the goal. But the attacker, who had scored five goals in his last five appearances, somehow missed the target when it appeared easier to score. Glory was made to pay five minutes from time when Santalab struck the winner.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
*The Wanderers continued their impressive record of always scoring in matches against Glory, now stretching to 12 consecutive games.
*The visitors had less than 38 percent of possession but still had more shots at goal, 14-13.
Santalab’s winner was a truly brilliant goal. Not only was Bridge’s ball all class but the way Santalab through himself at the ball to loop it up over Covic before it came down just underneath the bar was superb. A goal worthy of winning any match.
Barely a minute after going in front, Topor-Stanley gifted Glory a route back into the match when he dragged Chris Harold down in the box for a clear penalty.
Just 10 minutes in Dario Vidosic chased a Scott Neville pass down the wing but pulled up almost immediately clutching his hamstring and he played no further part.
THE FINAL WORD
It wasn’t the Wanderers most fluent performance but their ability to take all three points will please coach Tony Popovic. It sets up a tantalising top of the table clash away at Brisbane Roar next Friday night.
Glory will count themselves unlucky not to have taken something from the match. They defended stoutly and always looked dangerous on the counter attack. Should still be right in the hunt for the finals but will need to bounce back against Newcastle Jets in Perth on Monday week.
Western Sydney Wanderers: Reddy (gk), Neville, Alberto, Topor-Stanley (c), Jamieson, Andreu, Dimas, Vidosic (Castelen 13’), Nichols, Sotirio (Santalab 63’), Bridge
Perth Glory: Covic (gk), Risdon (c), Lowry, Grant, Warren, Vadocz (Oxborrow 85’), Sandor (Petratos 89’), Marinkovic, Castro, Harold (Garcia 74’), Keogh
Scorers: Castelen 62’, Keogh 64’, Santalab 85’
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Sotirio 20’ Warren 69’, Nichols 82’, Alberto 90+1’, Oxborrow 90+2’, Santalab 90+3’
Conditions: 24C, CloudyAttendance: 12,639 @ Pirtek Stadium