Wanderers edge Roar in nine goal finals thriller
Western Sydney Wanderers have earned a spot in the 2015/16 Grand Final as they defeated Brisbane Roar 5-4 in what was one of the most extraordinary games in A-League history.
Tony Popovic fielded an unchanged Wanderers line-up since their last game two weeks ago against Wellington with Brendan Santalab leading the side with four goals in his last two games.
Meanwhile, John Aloisi made one change to his Brisbane squad after they snatched a dramatic late win over Melbourne Victory last week with Brandon Borrello replacing Tommy Oar on the right wing.
In what was expected to be a tightly contested match, the Wanderers dominated the game’s early stages with Romeo Castelen and Mitch Nichols featuring heavily. But against the run of play, it was the Roar who struck first in the 16th minute.
An in-swinging corner from Corona collected a touch from the hand of Andreu, resulting in a penalty for Brisbane which was emphatically fired home by Dimitri Petratos to open the scoring.
The Roar then doubled their lead in the 20th minute thanks to an own goal from Andreu. Corona again assisting as he curled in a free-kick which deflected off the back of Andreu and into the goal to make it 2-0, stunning the Western Sydney fans.
Only three minutes later and Brisbane incredibly found a third goal through Jamie Maclaren. The young striker won possession inside the box and released a shot on goal which took a heavy deflection off Alberto Aguilar and looped over keeper Redmayne and into the goal to give the Roar a three-goal lead after only 23 minutes.
The Wanderers were eager to hit back as soon as possible and they did so in the 26th minute through Romeo Castelen. Santalab won the initial foul just outside the box, setting up a free-kick in a dangerous position for Castelen who lashed the ball past Jamie Young to bring the scores to 3-1.
The first-half drama did not end there as Brendan Santalab found a second goal for the Wanderers in the 39th minute. Dimas’ superb long ball up-field was gathered by Santalab who got the better of James Donachie and slotted the ball home to pull Wanderers back into the game.
The teams went into half-time with Brisbane maintaining a one-goal lead despite the Wanderer’s late comeback, with an epic second half in prospect.
Western Sydney came out firing in the second period and they didn’t waste time in scoring an equalizer as Romeo Castelen found the back of the net again in the 53rd minute. There was a mad scramble in front of goal after Scott Jamieson lobbed the ball into the box and it was Castelen who stepped in to make the decisive touch and poke the ball home from close range, making it 3-3.
The Wanderers continued to hammer Brisbane with chance after chance and they eventually scored a fourth goal in the 59th minute. It was a well-deserved hattrick for Romeo Castelen as he fired a rocket past Young from outside the box to send Pirtek Stadium into raptures.
Western Sydney looked destined to claim victory after completing their dramatic comeback, but those plans were spoiled by Brisbane’s Jamie Maclaren in the 81st minute. Henrique broke past the Wanderers’ back line and squared the ball for Maclaren who tapped the ball into an open net, leveling the scores once again at 4-4.
Both teams had chances to snatch a late winner, but neither side could make the decisive break through as the game went on to extra time.
After what was an incredible game of football, it was Western Sydney who scored the games winning goal in the 102nd minute through substitute Dario Vidosic. Following some neat play on the edge of the box from the Wanderers, Mark Bridge delivered a cross for Vidosic who touched the ball in at the near post to win the game and send Western Sydney into the Grand Final.
Western Sydney Wanderers will face Adelaide United next Sunday afternoon at Adelaide Oval to decide who will reign as the 2015/16 A-League champions.