Popovic furious with Sydney derby refereeing

Tony Popovic has hit out at referee Kris Griffiths-Jones after a 10-man Western Sydney Wanderers FC surrendered a two-goal lead to lose a thrilling derby to Sydney FC on Saturday night.

Despite leading 2-0 inside 25 minutes, the Wanderers capitulated after that to go down 3-2 in front of more than 41,000 fans at Allianz Stadium. 

The Wanderers boss was particularly incensed with the Sky Blues equalizer just after the break when Sasa Ognenovski turned home a loose ball from a corner. 

Goal-keeper Ante Covic was wrong-footed by a deflection but Sydney attacker Bernie Ibini appeared to obstruct his view from an offside position. 

“What really went wrong is we were dealt with some poor officiating. The second goal is not a goal as simple as that,” a disappointed Popovic said afterwards. 

“Goals change games, that’s the reality. They’re at home, it goes 2-2 and they lift in confidence but it’s clearly not a goal. There’s not much more you can do about that. 

“I’m assured it changes and my turn will come where we’ll get the lucky breaks. I look forward to that day.” 

The controversial goal aside, Popovic felt his side were on the wrong end of a host of decisions over a combustible 90 minutes.

“The officiating was poor throughout. They’re big games and we need officials that can handle that,” the Wanderers boss said. 

“There was a lack of consistency throughout. That’s all we ask for is consistency, nothing else. I’m not one to blame officials for why we have lost a game. I’ve never done that but it was poor officiating tonight.” 

Corey Gameiro’s goal just before the break swung the momentum of the match, with the home side lifting their intensity and performance in the second half. 

Ognenovski’s equalizer set up a thrilling finish and when Vitor Saba was shown a straight red card 20 minutes from time, the Sky Blues were always likely to win. 

And that got the decisive goal 11 minutes from the end through skipper Alex Brosque, condemning the Wanderers to back-to-back defeats to start the season. 

“It’s never nice to lose a derby but the circumstances it all happened…it’s disappointing,” Popovic said. 

Compounding matters for the Wanderers was a hamstring injury to striker Brendon Santalab, who must be in severe doubt for next weekend’s ACL final first leg against Al Hilal.