The Final Whistle: Tom's Team of the Week (Semis)
Goalkeeper, Melbourne City
Made a number of early saves that unfortunately proved futile.
Defender, Adelaide United
Kept Fornaroli out of the game.
Iacopo La Rocca
Defender, Adelaide United
Along with McGowan, kept the City attack quiet.
Defender, Western Sydney Wanderers
Enterprising going forward and solid defensively.
Midfielder, Adelaide United
A creative engine in midfield.
Forward, Adelaide United
A constant threat to the City defence.
Forward, Melbourne City
Melbourne’s standout player.
Forward, Western Sydney Wanders
A maiden A-League hattrick.
Striker, Adelaide United
Put Adelaide in the driver’s seat.
Striker, Brisbane Roar
His second gave Brisbane a lifeline.
Striker, Western Sydney Wanderers
Proved the match-winner.
Adelaide United 4 Melbourne City 1
Adelaide saw off Melbourne to clinch a home Grand Final.
Despite enjoying the better of the early chances, Adelaide failed to break the first half deadlock due to a series of good saves from Thomas Sorensen. Bruce Kamau came closest when his goal-bound strike was cleared off the line by Jack Clisby.
Bruno Fornaroli almost had the opener early in the second, when his long-range shot was blocked by Iacopo La Rocca with the open goal beckoning. Minutes later, Adelaide went ahead when the ball sat perfectly for Bruce Djite to whip into the top corner from outside the box. In the 60th minute, a sliding Clisby caught Kamau in the Melbourne box and Djite put away the resultant penalty.
But City had a lifeline when Connor Chapman found Nick Fitzgerald free at the top of the box. The forward slotted home off the inside of the post to set up a tense finale.
Adelaide put paid to any chance of a late comeback when Dylan McGowan was first to Marcelo Carrusca’s corner and volleyed past Thomas Sorensen at the near post. In injury time, Djite found Pablo Sanchez at the far post to lash in and see Adelaide cruise to a first Grand Final in seven years.
It looks a potential fairytale finish for Adelaide’s miraculous mid-season turn-around and again proved a step too far for Melbourne City.
Western Sydney Wanderers 5 Brisbane Roar 4
Western Sydney edged out Brisbane in an instant classic to reach the Grand Final.
In a season of unprecedented twists and turns, it seems the A-League Gods chose to save the best for last with an outrageously topsy-turvy affair that has a legitimate claim as being arguably the league’s greatest ever game.
It took Brisbane only 16 minutes to go ahead after Andreu’s handball allowed Dimi Petratos to convert from the spot. Four minutes later and the Spaniard was at it again, when his botched clearance ended up in the back of his own net. Corona’s corner found Andreu, whose attempted backheel flick rebounded in to cap off what had been a hilariously regrettable five minutes for the midfielder.
Brisbane didn’t stop there however and Jamie Maclaren made it three in the 23rd minute when his deflected shot lofted over the helpless Andrew Redmayne. The Wanderers looked dead and buried for mere minutes and were back in the game when Romeo Castelen blasted his free-kick through a porous Brisbane wall and past Jamie Young.
Brendon Santalab pulled another back before halftime when he cut inside James Donachie and guided the ball into the bottom corner. The comeback was complete early in the second half after the ball fell to Castelen, who lashed it into the roof of the Brisbane net.
The Wanderers had four in the 59th minute when Castelen volleyed in another loose ball to complete his hat-trick and give the home side the most miraculous of leads.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Roar equalised in the final ten minutes when Maclaren pounced on Henrique’s cutback to tap into an open net. Tired legs soon caught up to both sides and neither could carve out a winning chance.
But late in first half of extra time, the match had its dramatic late winner. Dario Vidosic saw his shot saved by Young, when Bridge pounced on the loose ball and picked out Vidosic to convert from close range and the Wanderers held on to seal a momentous victory.
It’s a bitter pill for Brisbane - a team so often on the other side of dramatic comebacks, but a more-than-fitting farewell to a Wanderland scheduled for redevelopment. For the Wanderers, it’s a third shot at a maiden A-League Championship and another chapter in their fledgling, but illustrious, folklore.