98th-minute mayhem as Kucharski seals Sydney Derby thriller with dramatic late winner

A 98th-minute winner from Sydney FC’s Jaiden Kucharski has helped the Sky Blues defeat rivals Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 at Allianz Stadium to win the Sydney Derby.

In what was a fiercely contested derby the Wanderers will feel as though they should have been in front at the break however forward Marcus Antonsson hit the post from close range with the goal at his mercy.

Brazilian forward Fabio Gomes had several good opportunities to find the back of the net before eventually doing so in the 72nd minute, tapping home from inside the six yard box after Wanderers keeper Lawrence Thomas had denied Joe Lolley.

The Wanderers then thought they’d snatched a point deep into stoppage time as substitute Zac Sapsford headed home an equaliser in the 95th minute but there was more drama to come, as substitute Kucharski stole in at the back post to send the home fans into ecstasy whilst simultaneously breaking the hearts of the Wanderers.

The dramatic win for Sydney FC not only pushes them back up into fourth spot on the ladder but also officially guarantees them a spot in this season’s Finals Series.

As for the Wanderers, defeat for Marko Rudan’s side means they remain in sixth spot but are still within striking distance of Melbourne City, whom they play in the penultimate round of the season.

The Wanderers will also be sweating over the fitness of Socceroo Brandon Borrello after he was withdrawn in the first half with what looked to be a hamstring injury.

The home side looked to control the early possession and fashioned the game’s first real chance in the 15th minute; Lolley firing a low shot towards the near post which was turned behind by Wanderers keeper Thomas.

Fabio then wasted a glorious chance soon after, firing over from inside the box when one on one before the Wanderers were then dealt a huge blow in just the 18th minute.

Having just teed up teammate Antonsson for the away side’s first chance of the game, Socceroos forward Borrello was then forced from the field with what appeared to be a hamstring injury and was subsequently replaced by Sapsford.

Despite that injury blow the Wanderers then rallied and should have taken the lead in the 25th minute of the contest.

Released down the Wanderers’ right, Dylan Pierias showcased his blistering pace before whipping a brilliant ball across the face of goal which Antonsson somehow failed to convert, instead finding the post despite having the goal at his mercy.

The figurehead of Sydney’s attack, Fabio then went close again, this time in the 31st minute, as he headed over from a Max Burgess cross while at the other end Antonsson then fired over after fashioning space inside the box.

Sydney FC had the ball in the net in the 43rd minute care of an own goal from Wanderers defender Tom Beadling but the Western Sydney man’s blushes were spared after the offside flag was raised.

The Wanderers were then dealt another big injury blow just before the hour mark with the aforementioned Beadling forced from the field meaning head coach Marko Rudan was forced into another defensive re-shuffle having already substituted left back Jack Clisby at the break.

Fabio then should have headed the home side in front in the 62nd minute with what was his side’s best chance of the match so far.

Opting to take a short freekick, Sydney forward Lolley whipped a dangerous ball to the back post which was met by the diving head of Fabio, however the Brazilian headed straight at Thomas in a huge let off for the visitors.

But despite seeing a number of chances go begging Fabio finally found the back of the net and it came at a crucial time in the contest.

After brilliantly thwarting a Wanderers attack at one end Sky Blues midfielder Anthony Caceres then released Lolley down the Sydney right and while the midfielder’s fierce shot was saved by Thomas the keeper could only parry straight into the path of Fabio who couldn’t miss from two metres out.

Completely against the run of play the Wanderers then thought they’d done enough to salvage a point as Sapsford diverted Aidan Simmons’ cross over the line to make it 1-1, sending the travelling support wild with joy.

However Sydney FC would go on to steal the points with what would prove to be the final move of the match as Kucharski’s back post volley bounced into the turf before looping over the Wanderers’ defence and nestling into the far corner as Allianz Stadium exploded with noise.