Diamanti inspires United to thrilling 5-3 win over gallant Wanderers
Two late goals ensured Western United held off an inspirational three-goal comeback from Western Sydney Wanderers to secure an enthralling 5-3 win at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium on Friday night.
An outrageous brace from Alessandro Diamanti ensured the Italian's performance stood out amongst all the goals and drama on a rain-soaked night in Sydney, as United moved further towards securing a place in the Finals Series, whilst putting an end to the Wanderers' finals aspirations.
An early United onslaught saw the Wanderers fall two goals behind, with Josh Risdon and Besart Berisha finishing off well-worked team moves to hand their side a worthy advantage.
United moved into cruise control in the second stanza when Diamanti converted a chipped goal which exemplified the tremendous quality possessed in the Italian's left boot.
But the Wanderers responded well to falling three goals behind, with Head Coach Jean Paul de Marigny making four changes that brought his side well into the contest.
Bruce Kamau emerged from the bench to breathe life into the fightback, finding Mitch Duke with a dangerous cross which his captain duly converted.
With fifteen minutes to play two more Wanderers substitutes combined once again, with Pirmin Schwegler laying a low cross from a set piece to Tass Mourdoukoutas, whose creative back-heeled flick squirmed into the bottom corner to reduce the deficit to one.
The dream then turned - but for a moment - into a genuine reality for the Red and Black when Duke fired home once more; his second goal of the night bringing the Wanderers level after trailing 3-0 earlier in the half.
But United hadn't read the script which ended in the Wanderers favour.
A costly mistake at the back from Mourdoukoutas led to a fourth United goal scored by Max Burgess, and with the lead back in their hands Rudan's side turned to their inspirational captain Diamanti for one more touch of class, and that's exactly what he delivered to push the result beyond doubt.
The Italian's second chipped goal with just minutes to play was, somehow, better than his first; scenes of jubilation ensued as United wrapped up all three points in an eight-goal thriller.
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Lustica's early sighter cannons off the bar
The Green and Black made their attacking intentions known just minutes into the contest when Risdon bombed to the by-line to play a neat cutback to Steven Lustica running into the box.
Lustica dispatched a strike first-time and his connection was sweet; Tristan Prendergast was beaten in the Wanderers' goal but unfortunately for Lustica and United the ball deflected away from goal via its strong connection with the crossbar.
Risdon catches Wanderers napping to put United in front
It came as no surprise when United went a goal ahead after dominating the opening six minutes of play; what did come as a surprise however was goalscorer Josh Risdon's arrival inside the six-yard box to head the ball home in an acre of space.
Burgess picked the lock of the Wanderers' defence with a well-weighted cross from the left flank.
Besart Berisha watched the ball float over his head and so did the Wanderers' defenders who stood almost motionless as Risdon crept into space, judged the ball drop and guided a neat header into the back of the net.
Berisha sweeps home Risdon cross as United consolidate early dominance
The early wave of Green and Black pressure proved too much for the Wanderers to handle when United cruised to a two-goal lead with just over 15 minutes on the clock.
Risdon opened the scoring but this time the Socceroos full-back turned provider after Diamanti played him down the right flank with grass to burn ahead.
Instead Risdon swept the ball along the deck and into the box, around the back-tracking Wanderers defenders and into Berisha's path for the United striker to tap home his 15th goal of the campaign without breaking stride.
Defensive mix-up sees Ziegler's touch rebound off the post
Connor Pain found Berisha's feet on the edge of the box but everyone - including the United striker - stopped in anticipation of an offside call.
That call never came; Berisha sprung into action as he launched at the loose ball in the box but Patrick Ziegler got across to lay a crucial block - but the danger hadn't yet averted the Wanderers, who watched as the ball dribbled toward goal, off the post and back into the hands of Prendergast.
Diamanti calls on all his class to convert from tight angle
United had sent the majority of their corners directly on Prendergast's head before trying something different in the second half.
Diamanti played a quick one-two with Pain which Kwame Yeboah and Jordan O'Doherty failed to contain between the two of them as the Italian dribbled down the by-line toward goal.
Faced with many crossing options Diamanti elected instead to go for goal, dispatching a chip which sent Prendergast scrambling backward; the Wanderers' gloveman could only push the ball on its way toward the back of the net, as United went three goals ahead in stunning fashion.
Kamau finds Duke to give Wanderers hope
The Wanderers needed to find a spark if they were to mount a serious comeback, and there's no one more willing to light the fuse than Duke, who scored his side's first of the night.
Kamau was the orchestrator of the chance, as he drove down the right flank and played an invasive cross into the box; Duke as always sniffed out the chance and made no mistake with a strong header which nestled into the back of the net and gave the Wanderers hope.
Mourdoukoutas invents a goal out of nowhere
On the brink of defeat the Wanderers were suddenly sniffing a boil-over when Mourdoukoutas produced a delightful flick which brought them to within one goal of United.
Schwegler laid the cross toward the near post but Mourdoukoutas did the rest, stumping all-comers in United's box as the ball found its way into the bottom left corner.
Duke scores brace as Wanderers draw level
Animated scenes in the Wanderers dugout ensued when Duke lashed a left-footed volley past Filip Kurto to put his side on level terms after trailing 3-0 early in the second half.
Daniel Georgievski created the chance down the left flank, playing in Yeboah who swung his boot at the ball but fluffed his lines; Yeboah's air-swing landed on Duke's chest, who touched the ball down and drilled his strike into the bottom corner.
Burgess breaks Wanderers hearts with clinical counter attack
They worked all game to draw back level but within a second it all unravelled for the Wanderers when Burgess caught Mourdoukoutas napping on the ball on the half-way line and drove toward goal.
Assessing his options Burgess elected to go on his own, dismissing the pass to Valentino Yuel and passing the ball past Prendergast to give United back the lead.
Diamanti settles wild game with equally outrageous chip
It was only fitting that the sealing goal in an eight-goal thriller was scored off Diamanti's left boot - once again in the form of a chip - which out-did all seven goals which came before it in both quality and audacity.
Pain had just seen his strike from close range saved by Prendergast but the United full-back chased down the ball and poked it to Diamanti; the Italian rocked back and dispatched a curling chip which curled over the sea of bodies in the box, once again evading Prendergast's outstretched glove as it dropped into the net to put a worthy exclamation point on a simply stunning night of football.
Perth Glory v Western United
When: Wednesday, August 12
Where: Bankwest Stadium
Kick-off: 5.35pm (AEST)
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