Western Sydney Wanderers FC are off the bottom of the Hyundai A-League ladder for the first time this season after Nikita Rukavytsya’s injury-time goal gave them a 3-2 win over Melbourne City on Wednesday night.
The Wanderers showed great resolve to come from behind twice to snatch just their second win of a difficult season and first at Pirtek Stadium.
Goals to Safuwan Baharudin and then Aaron Mooy – either side of Mateo Poljak’s first half equaliser looked to have City on track for a vital win in their chase for the finals.
But the Wanderers weren’t done, first getting level through a Tomi Juric penalty before Rukavytsya struck in stoppage time just minutes after City’s Connor Chapman was sensationally sent off for man-handling referee Strebre Delovski.
WHAT THEY SAID
"We played better in the second-half and started controlling more of the game and in the end it's nice to get the three points. For me it's most important that the team won, it's good for our belief and now we'll concentrate on the next game." - Western Sydney forward Nikita Rukavytsya
"I thought we created a lot of chances, we just didn't put them away when we needed to... Every team is looking for consistency, so if we can consistently play well for the rest of the season I'm sure we can move up the ladder." - Melbourne City midfielder Aaron Mooy
0-1 Baharudin (28’) – Aaron Mooy was given too much space on the left, swinging in a dangerous cross to the far-post where Patrick Kisnorbo’s powerful header looked destined for the goal. Yojiro Takahagi managed to get back on the line to head it away but only as far as Baharudin who had the easy task of nodding in from close range.
1-1 Poljak (38’) – A neat Wanderers move saw Haliti get in behind down the right, his centre picking out Tomi Juric whose goal-bound effort was superbly blocked by Connor Chapman. But the danger wasn’t over as the rebound fell perfectly into the path of Poljak who lashed it home.
1-2 Mooy (71’) – City won a free-kick about 30 yards from goal out on the left wing, with Mooy sending in a dangerous in-swinging ball to the far post. As the ball came it across it looked like a City attacker would get on the end of it but it was missed by everyone, confusing Wanderers ‘keeper Dean Bouzanis as it snuck in at the far post.
2-2 Juric (79’) – After hitting the post with a shot just seconds earlier, Juric was again involved, breaking into the box only to be bundled over by Chapman. The Socceroos striker picked himself up to slot home the penalty with a well-placed shot to his right.
3-2 – Rukavytsya (90+1’) – A flowing Wanderers attack ended with a cross to the far post where Rukavytsya volleyed it from just eight-yards out passed a stranded Tando Velaphi.
City looked on track for a vital three points until Chapman was adjudged to have bundled Juric over the in the box, gifting the home side an equaliser from the penalty spot. The City defender compounded matters just a few minutes later when he was shown a red card for man-handling the referee. It proved costly for City as the Wanderers stole all three points at the death.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
City’s horror run against the Wanderers has continued, they have now won just one of eight matches between the two clubs. John van ‘t Schip’s side have now conceded the most goals of any side in the Hyundai A-League away from home with 23 for the season.
On the day he was selected in the Socceroos squad for upcoming friendlies against Germany and Macedonia, Mooy put on a superb display for the visitors. Despite getting boos from his former fans early on, the classy playmaker bossed the midfield and was the standout player on the night. Not only did he set=up their opening goal with a teasing cross, he then scored the second with a curling free-kick which confused everyone before nestling in the corner of the net. He didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.
Wanderers goal-scorer Poljak didn’t return after the half-time break, later seen hobbling around in the players tunnel with ice heavily strapped to his left calf. With another game on Friday, it’s hard to see Poljak lining up against Melbourne Victory.
THE FINAL WORD
The Wanderers have less than 45 hours before they do it all again, hosting Melbourne’s other team as Victory head to Pirtek Stadium on Friday night. City returns home for another crucial clash in their quest for the top six against struggling Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park on Saturday.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC: Bouzanis, Tanaka, Aspropotamitis, Topor-Stanley, Golec, Takahagi, Poljak (Trifiro 46) (Galloway 90+3), Haliti, Kalmar (Sotirio 74’), Rukavytsya, Juric
Melbourne City: Velaphi, Jaliens, Kisnorbo, Chapman, Baharudin, Paartalu, Murdocca, Mooy, Dugandzic (Williams 59’), Koren (Clisby 84’), Novillo (Brown 66’)
Scorers: Baharudin 28’, Poljak 38’, Mooy 71’, Juric 79’, Rukavytsya 90+1
Red cards: Chapman 82’
Yellow cards: Aspropotamitis 13’, Topor-Stanley 32’, Golec 87’
Conditions: 26C, Wet
Attendance: 7239 @ Pirtek Stadiumcomments