Western Sydney Wanderers continue their fairytale inaugural season thanks to two world class goals from Dino Kresinger and Shinji Ono, sealing their spot in the A League Grand Final
It was the most important game in the season, and boy were the stakes high! The thrilling season the Western Sydney Wanderers have carved out themselves is set to continue after overcoming an in form Brisbane Roar side to reach their maiden A League final.
And the Wanderers got off to a perfect start from the most unlikely of sources. Having been ridiculed and made laughing stock by most Australian football fans throughout the season, it was the Croatian hitman Dino Kresinger who dispatched the first of two goals into the back of the net with a vintage backheel, thanks in large to a briiliant piece of individual skill by former former Sydney FC man Mark Bridge. And the match was sealed with perfection by the Japanese master, scoring arguably the best goal in A League’s short history given the circumstances. However celebrations were soured as Youssef Hersi was awarded an early bath by the ref for a reckless challenge.
Despite being lively during the time he was on the pitch, two poor tackles sealed his fate, and the important winger is set to miss next week’s all important Grand Final.
However his sending off failed to dampen the mood of those 19,369 fans present to witness the spectacle as the quality of football was more than enough to lift the spirits of fans.
The match got off to a nervy start for the Wanderers, and with Aaron Mooy missing out due to injury, it was clear Tony Popovic was content with taking a very defensive minded approach to the game, deploying 19 year old Yianni Perkatis.
Brisbane Roar carved out a handful of chances in the opening ten minutes or so, unable to breakdown a stubborn Wanderers backline consisting of Beauchamp and Topor- Stanley. On the other hand Wanderers only managed to muster a clear-cut chance on the fifteenth minute as Kresinger took a shot straight at the goalkeeper.
However that was not the only impact Kresinger had on the match. Determined to gain respect after poor performances earlier in the season against the same opposition and subsequent ‘booing’ by his own fans, Kresinger showed what he was made of, scoring an awesome backheel off a great counterattack and great play by Bridge. (you can watch the goal here)
After the goal, Brisbane were on the hunt for an equaliser, carving up half chances, but it was Kresinger again who had a great oppurtunity to score his second, however he failed to make any sort of connection with the header at the twenty-fourth minute mark.
As the second half wore one, the defensive pressure exerted by the Wanderers were starting to pay dividends as Roar were often guilty of hanging onto the ball for too long, allowing a quick turnover in favour of the Wanderers.
Kresinger missed a glorious chance to make 2-0 after the restart when unmarked in the box, and Roar winger Ben Halloran nearly made Kresinger pay for missing when his long-range drive got Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic scrambling.
Chances were a constant threat to both goalkeepers and both were at their brilliant best.
Roar’s Theo had to be even more aware when he saved from both Bridge and Mateo Poljak in the 55th minute, however a block of Perkatis’ shot prevented the need of a triple save.
However the reigning A League champions took control of the second half, at one stage having over 60% of the possession. This was no concern for the Wanderers as they were again able to absorb offensive pressure, akin to how they had played for most of the season.
Roar’s task of finding an equaliser became harder as their captain Broich limped off on the 69th minute. And their lack of leadership was evident for the remainder of the match. Again Kresinger played an integral part in assisting the goal as he flicked on a header to Ono, who, in seeing Theo out of position, went for a classy chip like shot into the top right hand corner of the net. His class on the field a stark contrast to that 12 months ago as he faced the scrutiny of the Japanese media, believing that he had nothing else to offer to football.
However what the somewhat ‘perfect’ night was soured when Hersi was sent off for his second bookable offence. Berisha, who was a constant shining light for Brisbane’s attack should’ve followed after a rugby like tackle on Dino, unleashing his frustration and anger in the process.
The Wanderers’ night of delight was capped off when Captain Michael Beauchamp lifted the coveted Premiers plate, a clear reflection of the successes the team has enjoyed this season. The party like atmosphere at ‘Wanderland’ only highlighted how close the Wanderers’ family had become.
Western Sydney head into next weeks home final at Allianz Stadium as clear favourites for the title, and what a story that’d be if they were to win! They truly are great ambassadors to the beautiful game!
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