Sydney FC new boys stun Wanderers in second-half rampage
Sydney FC’s new boys stunned Western Sydney Wanderers in a rampant second-half display to book the Sky Blues' place in a third straight FFA Cup Final.
Off-season arrivals Trent Buhagiar, Siem de Jong and Adam Le Fondre struck in the space of 26 second-half minutes to secure a 3-0 victory for Steve Corica’s side after Wanderers had controlled the FFA Cup's first ever Sydney derby.
Sky Blues goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne kept the visitors in contention with fine saves from Brendan Hamill and Oriel Riera in the opening stanza before the game swung dramatically after the interval.
The defending FFA Cup champions appeared from the changing rooms a different side and, within four minutes, Buhagiar had slotted home de Jong’s perfectly-weighted through ball to rock the home side.
Redmayne then blocked Josh Risdon's close-range effort in a moment proved to be game-changing. De Jong’s sumptuous free-kick and Le Fondre’s unstoppable penalty dampened Wanderers’ spirits and secured the Sky Blues a trip to Adelaide for the FFA Cup Final on Tuesday 30 October.
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In a cauldron-like atmosphere at Penrith Stadium, Oriol Riera sprung the game into life after seven minutes when he burst through the Sky Blues’ back-line and drilled the ball across goal. Rhyan Grant came to Sydney FC’s rescue with a full-stretch saving tackle.
Redmayne showed fast reactions to get down low and deny Brendan Hamill’s driven effort on 19 minutes, before the 29-year-old was called into action again to parry away Riera’s 29th minute header as the FFA Cup 2017 champions were pinned back for much of the opening 45 minutes.
With Alexander Baumjohann pulling the strings from the middle of the park, Steve Corica’s men showed little threat until after the interval. Whatever words were said in the Sky Blues team talk clearly made an impact, as Milos Ninkovic rifled a shot over the crossbar before Buhagiar struck.
De Jong spotted the run of the speedy winger and threaded through an inch-perfect pass, leaving the 20-year-old one touch to set himself and a second to poke the ball past Danijel Nizic.
Wanderers saw a huge chance to level go begging when Risdon ran clear on goal but the rampaging full-back's attempt was smothered by Redmayne at close range. Risdon recovered to cross, but Riera's header flew over the crossbar.
Almost immediately in response, Sydney FC earned a free-kick deep in Western Sydney territory and marquee man de Jong struck a curling effort into the top corner of the Wanderers net.
Again Babbel’s men responded, but they could not find the killer touch. Their hopes were buried when Le Fondre spun Tarek Elrich in the penalty area and was sent tumbling to the ground. The Englishman picked himself up an buried the spot-kick on 75 minutes.
Alex Brosque almost rubbed salt in the wounds by adding a fourth, but Nizic came to Western Sydney’s rescue with the save of the match from the Sydney FC substitute’s point-blank header.
It was too little too late for Wanderers as Sydney FC marched on towards an FFA Cup Final rematch with Adelaide, as they seek to make history by becoming the first ever back-to-back FFA Cup winners.