Brisbane Roar’s title defence is in tatters after Western Sydney Wanderers inflicted a 4-1 defeat on the reigning champions at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
Two goals in each half including a Kerem Bulut brace secured Wanderers’ first away victory of the season and consigned Roar to a third straight Hyundai A-League loss.
The hosts managed to equalise in the first-half but remain five points adrift of the sixth-placed Melbourne City ahead of this weekend's pivotal clash.
WHAT THEY SAID
“It’s nice to score but most importantly it’s nice to win another game. Brisbane is a good team and it’s always hard to play here so we’re really happy with the result.” - Wanderers forward Nikita Rukavytsya.
“It’s a disgrace what we showed today. We really have to back ourselves up, we have to analyse everything, we cannot continue to play like that.” - Brisbane Roar defender Jerome Polenz
0-1 Rukavytsya (20’) – Nikita Rukavytsya atoned for an earlier miss by clinically tucking Labinot Haliti’s smart pass from the left inside Jamie Young’s near post for the opener.
1-1 Aspropotamitis (41’) – Brisbane found a way back into the match shortly before the break as Luke Brattan’s corner forced Jonathan Aspropotamitis to turn into his own net under pressure from Adam Sarota.
1-2 Bulut (44’) – Haliti was again the instigator to restore Wanderers’ lead on the stroke of half time, spotting Romeo Castelen with room on the right to beat his marker and tee up Bulut for a tap-in.
1-3 Castelen (58’) – Yojiro Takahagi was afforded licence to move inside and slip a reverse pass through for Castelen, who duly fired home off the underside of the bar.
1-4 Bulut (89’) – Bulut could hardly have asked for a simpler chance to seal his brace in the dying moments when he was released clean through on goal before finishing inside the near post.
Having just conceded an own goal to give Brisbane Roar an unlikely route back into the match, Western Sydney dealt a heavy blow to the confidence of the hosts by recapturing the lead almost immediately through Kerem Bulut.
Tony Popovic’s side might have let that misfortune overwhelm them for much of this campaign but the AFC Champions League winners remained upbeat in Brisbane.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The result marked Wanderers’ first away win of the Hyundai A-League season, snapping a three-match winless streak against Roar in the process.
Romeo Castelen emphatically ended any comeback chances prior to the hour with a thumping finish from close-range.
The former Eredivise winger proved his power by unleashing an unstoppable shot in off the underside of the bar to extend the visitors’ lead to 3-1.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Frans Thijssen entered the match short on options due to national team call-ups and opted to shift midfield lynchpin Luke Brattan into a makeshift defensive partnership with Shane Stefanutto.
Though the playmaking midfielder wasn’t to blame for his side’s defensive woes, Roar were picked apart by Wanderers while natural centre-back Lachlan Jackson remained on the bench.
THE FINAL WORD
The reigning champions have now shipped 14 goals in their last four outings and will need a considerable turnaround in form if they’re to overcome Melbourne City in a must-win away match on Saturday night.
Wanderers finally have cause for celebration after their finest 90 minutes of the season and will look to build momentum when they visit Perth Glory.
Brisbane Roar: Young (gk), Polenz, Brattan, Stefanutto, Hingert, Sarota, Clut (Lambadaridis 75’), Lustica, Borrello, Kaluderovic (Solorzano 70’), Petratos (Brady 46’).
Western Sydney Wanderers: Covic (gk), Tanaka, Aspropotamitis, Topor-Stanley, Golec (Gallaway 27’), Takahagi, La Rocca, Castelen, Haliti (Trifiro 74’), Rukavytsya, Bulut (Kuzmanovski 90’).
Scorers: Rukavytsya (20’), Aspropotamitis OG (41’), Bulut (44’), Castelen (58’)
Red Cards: Nil
Yellow Cards: Topor-Stanley (83’)
Conditions: Humid and dry.