Western Sydney Wanderers have capped one of the greatest comebacks in Hyundai A-League history to beat Brisbane Roar 5-4 after extra time to progress to next Sunday’s Hyundai A-League Grand Final.
After scores were locked at 4-4 following an incredible 90 minutes at Pirtek, substitute Dario Vidosic proved to be the Wanderers’ hero, scoring the decisive goal on 102 minutes to send the club to a third decider in four years.
In a truly incredible match, Roar stunned the home fans by racing to a 3-0 lead inside 23 minutes via a Dimitri Petratos penalty, an Andreu own goal and Jamie Maclaren’s deflected strike.
Enter Dutchman Romeo Castelen.
The pacy winger – who started the comeback with a wicked free-kick – finished with a hat-trick while Brendon Santalab also got his name on the scoresheet as the Wanderers edged in front 4-3 before the hour mark and send more than 20,000 fans into a frenzy.
But as they often do in the finals, Brisbane fought back and forced extra-time as Maclaren got his second with nine minutes left.
It was Vidosic who had the final say though in the first half of extra-time to set up a meeting with Adelaide United in next Sunday’s Grand Final at the Adelaide Oval.
0-1 Petratos (16’) – Andreu was adjudged to have handled in the box as he challenged with Broich for a header. Petratos powerfully stroked the ball into the top left corner, giving Redmayne no chance.
0-2 Andreu (og) (20’) – A free-kick on the left was swung into a dangerous area by Corona. Andreu threw his leg at the ball in an attempt to flick it away from danger but only succeeded in skewing it into his own backside and into goal.
0-3 Maclaren (23’) – Roar broke down the right through Borrello, whose low cross into the box found its way to Maclaren. The striker wriggled clear of his marker before his shot hit Alberto and lobbed up over Redmayne and into the net.
1-3 Castelen (26’) – Santalab won a free-kick just outside the box directly in front of goal. Castelen went for power, blasting it past the wall and keeper Jamie Young.
2-3 Santalab (39’) – Santalab raced onto a through-ball and got himself into the box against Donachie. He cut back inside the defender before slipping a shot past Young at the near post.
3-3 Castelen (53’) – After Roar failed to adequately clear a free-kick, Young denied both Nichols and Bridge from close range but Castelen wouldn’t be denied and he fired into the roof of the net.
4-3 Castelen (59’) – Young came out to punch a free-kick which came down just outside the box. Castelen judged the bounce of the ball better, holding off a defender before unleashing a brilliant volley which gave the keeper no chance.
4-4 Maclaren (81’) – Substitutes Hervas and Oar combined to release Henrique down the left and his scuffed shot rolled across the face of goal perfectly into the path of Maclaren to stroke into an empty net.
5-4 Vidosic (102’) – Vidosic’s initial shot forced Young to parry it away but the loose ball was retrieved by Bridge, who played the ball back into the middle where Vidosic was on hand to scoop it in high into the net from close range.
At 3-0 up and with his side seemingly in cruise control, Jade North foolishly hacked down Santalab on the edge of the box giving the Wanderers a free-kick in dangerous territory.
Castelen stepped up and whacked it into the back of the net to make it 3-1 and swing the whole momentum of the match in the favour of the home side.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
*The nine goals scored in the semi is the highest number ever in a Hyundai A-League finals match.
*Maclaren’s brace made it seven goals in just four matches against the Wanderers this season, five of which have come at Wanderland.
*The defeat for Brisbane was just their third in the finals in their last 10 matches.
What an incredible 90 minutes we were treated to at Wanderland! Nine goals, some great attacking play, defensive howlers, amazing atmosphere, edge of your seat drama and one astonishing fightback. That’s what finals football is all about and what a way to say goodbye to Wanderland before its redevelopment. Bring on the Grand Final!!
*Andreu’s decision to lead with his hand while challenging Broich for a header was always fraught with danger, and he paid a price conceding a needless penalty.
*The Spaniard compounded matters just a few minutes later as he clumsily scored an own goal to gift Roar a second.
THE FINAL WORD
What tremendous character, determination and ability this Wanderers side has. At 3-0 down they could easily have thrown in the towel but they somehow found the resolve to fight back and claim a famous win. “Popa” has this side well-drilled and hungry. Will this be the year the Red and Black finally go all the way?
This defeat will take a lot of getting over for Roar’s players, coaching staff and fans. When Maclaren’s goal went in to make it 3-0 they must have already been thinking about getting ready for next week’s GF.
For a team with so much finals experience and talent, it was a surprise how easily they allowed the Wanderers back into the match. A season that promised so much a fortnight ago, ultimately ends with no silverware.
Western Sydney Wanderers: Redmayne (gk), Neville, Alberto, Topor-Stanley (c), Jamieson, Andreu (Baccus 114’), Dimas, Castelen, Nichols (Cole 91’), Santalab (Vidosic 78’)
Brisbane Roar: Young (gk), Hingert, Donachie, North, Brown, Corona, McKay (c), Petratos (Hervas 58’), Borrello (Oar 73’), Maclaren, Broich (Henrique 63’)
Scorers: Petratos 16’, Andreu (og) 20’, Maclaren 23’, Castelen 26’, Santalab 39’, Castelen 53’, Castelen 59’, Maclaren 81’, Vidosic 102’
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: North 25’, Dimas 42’, Santalab 62’
Conditions: 19C, Fine
Attendance: 20,084 @ Pirtek Stadium