Western Sydney Wanderers have pulled off one of the greatest wins in their history, beating reigning champions Guangzhou Evergrande 1-0 in a fiery AFC Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday night in Sydney.
In front of more than 17,000 at a rocking Parramatta Stadium, a goal claimed by both Antony Golec and Tomi Juric in the second half was the difference to stun the Chinese giants.
A thrilling contest ended in plenty of drama as both Zhang Linpeng and Gao Lin were sent off in the dying minutes for lashing out at Wanderers players.
It led to seething Guangzhou coach Marcelo Lippi storming the field in protest as the game ended in dramatic fashion.
But all of that will likely not matter to Tony Popovic and has side who now have a huge chance to progress to the semi-finals in next week’s second leg in China.
Despite facing a team with a huge budget and star-studded line-up, the Wanderers were good value for their epic win.
The visitors were dealt a blow even before kick-off as they were forced to walk to the ground from their team hotel after their bus broke down.
In an open start to the match, the Wanderers had their chances and went close twice in the space of four minutes on the quarter-hour mark.
First Labinot Haliti’s lob sailed just wide of the post before Mark Bridge was denied by a smothering save by Guangzhou keeper Zeng Cheng after Tomi Juric’s scuffed shot found its way into his path.
With a memorable contest in the making, it was the home side who should have taken a lead to the break.
Haliti did brilliantly down the left before crossing to an unmarked Shannon Cole at the far post but he headed wide of the mark from just six yards out.
Again it was the Wanderers who gained the ascendancy on the resumption and they got the reward on the hour from an unlikely source.
Golec was giving too much space down the left, cutting back inside onto his right foot and rolling in a cross which beat everyone and nestled in the far corner.
Last season’s Golden Boot winner Tomi Juric was convinced he got a touch and the referees agreed, marking his name on the team sheet.
New Brazilian recruit Vitor Saba came on soon after for his Red & Black debut and showed glimpses of what he will offer in the upcoming Hyundai A-League season.
The visitors’ frustrations boiled over late on as both Linpeng and Gao were sent off, ruling them out of next week’s second leg.