Wanderers edge Victory in perfect send-off for retiring Schwegler
Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder Pirmin Schwegler ensured his playing career ended on a high, scoring a first-half goal in his side's 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory on Wednesday night.
The Wanderers edged the battle between ninth and tenth on the Hyundai A-League table, as Schwegler's goal and a well-taken strike from Jordan O'Doherty proved enough to stave off a late fightback from Victory inspired by a consolation goal scored by Andrew Nabbout.
Schwegler gave the Wanderers a one-goal advantage at the half time break in some style, curling a left-footed strike from outside the box past Matthew Acton in Victory's goal to ensure he had a personal moment to savour in the last game of his career.
It was a well-earned lead for the Red and Black who crafted all of the best efforts on goal in the first half aside from a long-range attempt from Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio which called Tristan Prendergast into a relatively comfortable save.
The Wanderers carried their ascendancy into the second half and looked set for a routine win to end their season when O'Doherty ghosted into the box to expertly divert a cross from Mitch Duke off the post and into the back of the net.
But Victory weren't ready to say die; Nabbout made sure he got a send-off of his own in his last game in Victory colours, when he swept home a fluffed strike from Lawrie-Lattanzio to bring his side back to within one goal with more than 20 minutes to play.
A second Nabbout strike was rightly adjudged offside and that was all the fight Victory could muster, as the Wanderers held onto a 2-1 win which takes them above Newcastle Jets into eighth on the Hyundai A-League table.
The Jets play Wellington Phoenix on Thursday night with the chance to go back above the Wanderers, while Victory end the 2019/20 campaign in tenth place with 23 points, one position off the bottom of the table.
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Acton shows athleticism to deny Jurman a classy finish
The Wanderers came close to opening the scoring with a delightful chipped attempt, but it wasn't one of their strikers producing the chance.
Instead it was Matt Jurman, who ventured forward from centre-half to receive the ball from O'Doherty on the tip of the box, dispatching a left-footed chip which Acton did well to scramble to tip over the bar.
Lawrie-Lattanzio threatens to finish Victory counter with a goal
A strong tackle from James Donachie on Duke set Lawrie-Lattanzio on a marauding run from inside his own half which led to a strong strike on goal from the Victory youngster.
Lawrie-Lattanzio had three attacking options to choose from but opted instead to lash a strike of his own toward goal, which Prendergast proved to be more than capable of saving.
Retiring Schwegler with a fairytale finish
It became very clear, very fast that Schwegler wasn't willing to let the final game of his career play out before punctuating it with a moment to savour.
Duke sparked the chance with a ball into the box which caused chaos; O'Doherty slipped at the front post as the cross skimmed to the feet of Simon Cox who turned to find Schwegler waiting on the tip of the box.
His first-time strike off his left boot curled around Acton and into the back of the net - Schwelger threw his arms into the sky and Wanderers players came from far and wide to embrace the 33-year-old as he put his side into the lead with a memorable goal.
Schwegler displays his confidence with shot from a corner
With a number of Wanderers players crowding Victory goalkeeper Acton, Schwegler decided to take an audacious shot from a corner kick which almost found its way into the back of the net.
But Acton - not for the first time in the game - showed his ability to deny the Wanderers with a backwards leap and an outstretched glove as he sent the ball out for another corner.
O'Doherty produces sharp finish to put Wanderers in control
A second goal was the least the Wanderers deserved for their performance throughout the first hour of play, and that's just what they got when O'Doherty connected sweetly with a low ball from Duke from the left flank to the front post.
O'Doherty got ahead of Adama Traoré to find himself in a great position but the Wanderers midfielder still had it all to do.
Fortunately for the Wanderers O'Doherty was up to the task, as he swept a first-time strike around his body, off the post past Acton and into the back of the net.
Lawrie-Lattanzio can't convert - but Nabbout can
It seemed a Victory goal was a certainty when Lawrie-Lattanzio waltzed toward the penalty spot to connect with a cross from Leigh Broxham in acres of space.
But the 18-year-old's shot was a poor one; luckily for Victory Nabbout was on hand to direct the ball back on goal and hand his side a lifeline.
There were calls for offside but with Patrick Ziegler standing too deep in the Wanderers box no such call was made as Victory moved to within one goal.