The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers have cruised to an impressive 3-0 victory over Melbourne City at AAMI Park with marquee man Federico Piovaccari opening his account in controversial circumstances.
Fresh from winning two games on the bounce, the Wanderers oozed confidence during the early stages, highlighted by the sight of captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley skipping past challenges in the midfield.
Tony Popovic made just a single change from the side that beat Newcastle 2-1 the previous Saturday with Mark Bridge replacing Jaushua Sotirio on the left.
No other team in the league has scored as many goals as Melbourne City and they fired an early warning sign when Erik Paartalu released the dangerous Bruno Fornaroli in on goal but Jonathan Aspropotamitis showed good strength to hold off the in-form Uruguayan.
An excellent spell of pressure from the Red & Black almost paid dividends when Vidosic’s deflected shot crept past the far post before Sorensen palmed the Australian marquee man’s dangerous cross to safety with Topor-Stanley lurking.
Bar a few dangerous moments from set-pieces, City had seen little of the ball deep in the Wanderers half yet John van’t Schip’s side were presented with a golden opportunity to open the scoring when Andrew Redmayne’s miscued pass was pounced upon by Harry Novillo. It was a heart-in-mouth moment for Tony Popovic’s men but Redmayne somehow made up ground to smother what looked a certain tap-in.
Scott Jamieson’s delivery from set-pieces has been an asset to the Wanderers this campaign, and the former Perth Glory man could have registered his second assist of the season when he found Vidosic unmarked at the back post but the midfielder was unable to bundle the ball home.
Federico Piovaccari went similarly close at the back end of the half until a last-ditch lunge from Conor Chapman denied the Italian what would have been an easy tap-in, ensuring both sides left for the dressing room scoreless.
The half-time deadlock was broken after just two minutes.
After capitalizing on a loose ball, Vidosic fired a cross towards the back post for Mitch Nichols to tap in his third goal of the season.
It was an easy finish for Nichols after Vidosic’s tantalizing cross took Sorensen and the City defence out of the equation.
With City searching for an instant reply, spaces began to open up for the Wanderers midfield, who were menacing on the transition.
Following another pair of near misses, it seemed like it was going to be one of those nights for Piovaccari but the Italian marquee’s time finally arrived on the hour mark, and it came in suitably bizarre circumstances.
After exchanging passes with himself on the right channel, Neville advanced past a static City defence, who had stopped after the assistant referee incorrectly raised his flag for offside. With the referee rightfully over-ruling the linesman, Neville crossed to an unmarked Piovaccari who smashed home a memorable first goal for club.
It was a blow that City never recovered from with the Wanderers assuming complete control of the ball, with Andreu typically influential in dictating play from midfield.
Mark Bridge enjoyed a patient evening on his full return from injury and he had a great chance to add a third when pouncing on a loose ball on the edge of the box but City threw enough bodies in the way to divert the danger clear.
The Melburnians were committing numbers forward in search of a consolation goal, and they left themselves horribly open at the back when Mark Bridge arrived in timely fashion at the back stick to slide in Jaushua Sotirio’s screwed effort.
Bridge’s strike was his 50th in the A-League, and it added considerable gloss to an entirely dominant performance from the Wanderers, who have now won three on the trot.
The Wanderers are back at home next week when they take on Wellington Phoenix at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday 21 November. Tickets available here for a 5:15pm kick-off.
If you can’t wait until then, head to Marconi Stadium this Sunday for the Foxtel NYL and Westfield W-League Double Header.