Wanderers 2 Sanfrecce 0 | Match Report

The Western Sydney Wanderers have become the first Australian club to make the AFC Champions League Quarter Finals in their debut season.

The Western Sydney Wanderers have become the first Australian club to make the AFC Champions League Quarter Finals in their debut season as they defeated Sanfrecce Hiroshima on away goals in the Round of 16.

Needing a 2-0 win in the second leg at Parramatta Stadium, crowd favourite Ono, in his final match for the Wanderers before returning to Japan, was the architect behind second-half goals for Shannon Cole and Brendon Santalab, with Tony Popovic’s side edging through on away goals.

Popovic fielded four non-starters from the Hyundai A-League Grand Final with Michael Beauchamp, Labinot Haliti, Jason Trifiro and Antony Golec all lining up.

The home side started with intent without making any real inroads and in fact it was Sanfrecce who had the first sight of goal.

It was a long ball straight down the middle from the Japanese side that nearly caught the Wanderers out but goalkeeper Ante Covic blocked the shot of Naoki Ishihara, a two-goal hero in the first leg.

Almost immediately after that Ono flashed a sharp effort just narrowly wide of the post.

Another departing crowd hero, Youssouf Hersi, had a half-sight of goal but couldn’t wrap his foot around an awkward effort and the ball looped over the crossbar.

Haliti saw two shots blocked in quick succession by some desperate defending early in the second period as the Wanderers sought to make up the deficit.

Iacopo La Rocca then spurned a gilt-edged chance eight minutes after the break, powering a close-range header over the crossbar.

Soon after, the Wanderers got their reward as Cole rifled home a loose ball from near the penalty spot after Ono chipped in a clever cross from the by-line.

Suddenly the Wanderers were energised and enjoying momentum.

Substitute Tomi Juric fired a shot narrowly wide following a deft turn on the edge of the penalty area as the match remained on a knife-edge.

Juric flew through the air with an athletic bicycle kick and Hersi’s diving header went agonisingly wide of the post, denying the Wanderers a spectacular equaliser.

Finally the decisive moment came with five minutes remaining as Sanfrecce again failed to clear an Ono cross and Santalab gleefully crashed home the loose ball to send the decibel levels sky-high in Sydney’s west.

There will be a draw for the Quarter Final where Wanderers will be drawn against one of the other three East Asia teams. The four West Asia teams will be drawn amongst themselves.

The draw will be held on 28 May with the home and away fixtures to be held on 20 August and 27 August.

Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Shannon Cole 55′, Brendon Santalab 85′)
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0

Crowd: 10,639 at Parramatta Stadium