Wanderers ends Adelaide's top two hopes
It looked like being another forgettable night for the Wanderers as Sergio Cirio’s brilliant curling strike had the Reds up 1-0 at the break.
But the match turned on Nigel Boogaard’s red card just after the hour mark as Tomi Juric’s ensuing penalty and Bridge’s clinical finish gave the home side a hard-earned win.
The result was extra significant as the Wanderers move off the bottom of the ladder ahead of next week’s final round.
WHAT THEY SAID
"On an individual level it was great to get that goal at the end but more importantly I think we were a lot better in the second-half. First-half I think we were terrible, we were very slow and deep. To come out second-half a lot better it's good signs considering we've still got Champions League." - Wanderers' Mark Bridge
"I think the first half we were quite good, we kept the ball and tried to play out from the back, second-half they pressed a lot higher and were good for it. Credit to Wanderers I think they played to win in the second-half and we just couldn't get back in the game." - Adelaide United's Eugene Galekovic
0-1 Cirio (45’) – Tarek Elrich made a strong surge down the right, playing a one-two with Cameron Watson and he powered into the box. The Reds right back then squared the ball to Cirio at the far post who curled an unstoppable shot past Ante Covic into the corner of the net. A cracking finish from the Spaniard.
1-1 Juric (63’) – Mateo Poljak sliced through challenges from a couple of Reds defenders before slipping a clever pass in behind the defence for Mark Bridge. But just as the attacker got into the box he was brought down by Nigel Boogaard for a penalty and a red card for the defender. Juric made no mistake from the spot, sending Eugene Galekovic the wrong way and planting it in the bottom left corner.
2-1 Bridge (73’) – Yojiro Takahagi swung in a cross from the left to the top of the box, which Juric cleverly flicked on over the top of an advancing Adelaide defence. The ball fell perfectly into the path of Bridge who fired it low and hard into the far corner.
Mateo Poljak had been fairly anonymous in the first hour but came up with a massive play to get the Wanderers back in the match. He pierced through the heart of the Adelaide defence with a powerful run before dinking a brilliant pass for Mark Bridge which drew a foul by Boogaard – and a red card - and won the home side a penalty. Juric buried his penalty to draw the Wanderers level and swung the momentum of the match. From then on there was only going to be one winner.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Boogaard became the most sent-off man in the history of the Hyundai A-League with his second half dismissal. That was his sixth red card, taking him past Melbourne Victory boss Kevin Muscat.
The result sees the Wanderers snap their four-game winless run against the Reds, but Tony Popovic’s troops have also failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 12 games.
Adelaide has still never managed a win at Wanderland, with just one draw and three defeats from their four trips to Sydney’s west.
He might be almost 40 -years-old but Wanderers’ ‘keeper Ante Covic still showed his reflexes are up to scratch with a stunning save just before half-time. Craig Goodwin’s corner was met by a powerful downward header from Bruce Djite from just six yards out. But Covic somehow got down quickly to get his hands on the ball just centimetres from the goal-line. It was a sensational save that lit up an otherwise dour contest up until that point.
Adelaide’s defence was handling anything the Wanderers were throwing at them fairly well, until Boogaard’s mis-timed challenge on Bridge. It was a silly challenge from such an experienced defender. He was never going to get the ball and left referee Jared Gillett with little choice but to send him off. His team-mates couldn’t handle the numerical dis-advantage and came away with nothing.
THE FINAL WORD
The Wanderers can ensure they don’t end the season with the wooden spoon if they take all three points at home to Perth Glory next Saturday afternoon. Any hope Adelaide had of a top-two finish is now gone and they will look to build momentum ahead of the Finals Series when they host Melbourne City on Saturday night.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC: Covic, Tanaka, Aspropotamitis, Spiranovic, Golec, Takahagi (Trifiro 77’), Poljak, Castelen (Bulut 66’), Bridge, Kuzmanovski (Rukavytsya 70’), Juric
Adelaide United: Galekovic, Elrich, Boogaard, Malik, Goodwin, Isaias, Watson (McGowan 63’), Jeggo, Sanchez (Marrone 84’), Djite (Palanca 78’), Cirio
Scorers: Cirio 45’, Juric 63’, Bridge 73’
Red cards: Boogaard 62’
Yellow cards: Elrich 4’, Tanaka 18’, Malik 25’, Isaias 30’, Poljak 37’, Watson 57’, Goodwin 74’
Conditions: 25C, Overcast
Attendance: 9837 @ Pirtek Stadium