Highs and Lows in Wanderers ACL debut


Brendan Santalab struck one of the fastest goals in AFC Champions League history but it wasn’t enough.

Brendan Santalab struck one of the fastest goals in AFC Champions League history but it wasn’t enough as Western Sydney Wanderers first foray into Asia ended in a 3-1 loss to Ulsan Hyundai at a rain-swept Parramatta Stadium.

Santalab struck after just 43 seconds to give the Wanderers a dream start and they should have been three goals up after fifteen minutes but it wasn-t to last.

So resolute and stingy throughout their A-League life, the home side were punished by a clinical Ulsan Hyundai.

Giant striker Kim Shin-Wook, Ko Chang-Hyun and Kang Minsoo were the beneficiaries to getting their name on the scoresheet and settle the issue in front of a typically loud Red and Black crowd.

Given Ulsan’s domestic season has yet to get underway, the Wanderers were always going to try to jump the visitors at the start but no one could have predicted just how quick they would pounce.

Santalab came up with a superb finish but Shinji Ono deserves much of the credit for the lead-up work.

The Japanese international produced an audacious flick-pass into the path of Santalab, who hit a sweet controlled volley into the bottom corner.

Ono was involved again 16 minutes later as the home side went close to doubling their lead, his free-kick met perfectly by Nikolai Topor-Stanley but the defender put his header wide.

The Heavens opened soon after and with the heavy downpour came a change in the momentum of the contest.

Shin-Wook had been proving a real handful for the Wanderers defence and he came up with the equaliser ten minutes before the break.

With Jerome Polenz and Topor-Stanley both attempting to clear the ball, Shin-Wook side-footed past a stranded Ante Covic.

The home side was then made to pay just before half-time, again coming from the high ball as Chang-Hyun pounced with a superb curling half-volley.

Just like in the first half it was the Wanderers who started the second on the front foot with Mark Bridge’s 20-yard shot sailing just over the bar.

The attacker’s next effort on the hour almost won the home side a penalty with the ball appearing to strike the arm of Minsoo.

But Omani referee Abdullah Mohamed waved away appeals for a spot kick and just six minutes later Minsoo made an even more decisive play at the opposite end.

The defender was on hand to poke home from close range.

The Wanderers never stopped looking for a way back into the game but couldn’t break down the well-organised Ulsan rearguard and they will need to regroup before their trip to China against Guizhou Renhe in a fortnight.

Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Santalab 1) Ulsan Hyundai 3 (Shin-Wook 35, Chang-Hyun 43, Minsoo 67) Crowd: 11,212 @ Parramatta Stadium