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Haliti goal cancels out early Berisha strike

WSWvBRIA late goal from substitute Labinot Haliti saw the Western Sydney Wanderers hold league leaders Brisbane Roar to a 1-1 draw at Pirtek Stadium on Friday night.

The home side started the match brightly and were almost in front within three minutes, when a trademark surging run from Hersi allowed him to find his way into the box. However, the winger’s low cross was overhit and the stretching Bridge couldn’t connect.

A minute later, Ono’s curling free-kick from the left corner forced Theo into a fine save to tip the ball over, and the Wanderers looked to have all the momentum.

It did not take long for Brisbane to find a foothold in the contest, however, and in their first attack of note in the 12th minute they opened the scoring. After collecting the ball from Broich on the right wing, Donachie fed the ball into Berisha, who turned onto his left and directed a low shot that beat Covic at the near post.

Western Sydney responded positively but were unable to capitalise on a succession of free-kicks. They were struggling to break down the visitor’s defence and even their best chance of the half, a 34th minute first-time drive from Hersi that required a parried save from Theo, arrived from a tight angle.

The Roar gave the home supporters a scare two minutes later when Petratos’ free-kick attempt fizzed across Covic and wide of the post, before Santalab sent a weak header straight at Theo to end a tense first half.

The Wanderers started the second just as determined and on a quick counter attack in the 47th minute, Hersi fed the ball to Santalab inside the box. Taking the ball wide onto a tight angle, his shot squeezed past Theo but clipped the post before going out of play.

The Wanderers began asserting control over the match, with Santalab causing plenty of problems for the Roar defence. Following his 47th minute strike with a clipped header, the forward touched the ball past an oncoming Theo before his attempted pass was blocked by a Brisbane defender for a corner. Just two minutes later, he was collected by the Roar ‘keeper as he tried to meet Mooy’s dangerous cross.

A series of slips by Western Sydney defenders gifted Broich an easy chance on goal in the 63rd minute but the marquee midfielder could only put his effort wide.

It was a rare chance for Brisbane, as the Wanderers rebounded up the other end and almost scored when Polenz’s cross made its way through several players before Bridge sent a tame effort straight at Theo.

The Roar were rarely testing Covic’s goal but substitute Henrique almost doubled the Roar’s lead in the 69th minute, when Brattan played a smart chip through to the Brazilian striker who, under pressure from Polenz, flicked the ball the wrong side of the post.

Again, the hosts countered, with Bridge latching onto a through ball but dragging his shot wide from within the box when he had more time than he probably realised.

It would be his final effort, as Tony Popovic replaced him and Santalab with Juric and Haliti, and the change paid off as the latter drew the game level in the 84th minute.

Mooy found space on the right wing to pull out a brilliant cross and he picked out Haliti at the far post for the substitute to convert.

It was the final shot on target for the match, as both sides seemed content to finish the game with a point.

About the author

avatarJulian is a freelance writer and editor, film festival programmer, and serial podcaster.

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