Wanderers ignite Finals Series hopes in seven-goal thriller over Reds


Western Sydney Wanderers beat Adelaide United 5-2 in a crazy, see-sawing Hyundai A-League contest on Friday night which saw six goals arrive in the first half. 

Wanderers midfielder Pirmin Schwegler struck first with a deflected free kick but Adelaide raced ahead via Riley McGree’s penalty and Ben Halloran’s brilliant finish.

But Western Sydney piled in three unanswered goals  from Nicolai Muller and Mitch Duke (two) to take a remarkable 4-2 lead in at the break. 

After recovering their breath in the interval both sides steadied the ship in the second stanza.

Adelaide tried to mount a comeback but those hopes were extinguished when Simon Cox netted his first home goal in a Wanderers shirt to give fans of the Red and Black a fantastic and rare three points to celebrate at Bankwest Stadium.

The win moves Wanderers into eighth position on the ladder, level on points with Western United, who lost 2-0 to Wellington Phoenix earlier on Friday.

Adelaide spurned the opportunity to move as high as second on the ladder and fell to fifth in defeat.

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Key moments

It was a bruising start to the match for Wanderers captain Duke, who required medical attention after copping a bump from Adelaide youngster Louis D’Arrigo outside the penalty area.
D’Arrigo was booked for the foul, and from the resulting free-kick Pirmin Schwegler’s effort took a wicked deflection off teammate Dylan McGowan, wrong-footing Izzo in the Adelaide goal. 

Keanu Baccus’ cross-come-shot bounced off the foot of the post and Bruce Kamau thundered the rebound wide as the Wanderers aggressively ramped up the early pressure on, and Gertjan Verbeek’s visitors were holding on. But instead of going for the jugular, the Wanderers shot themselves in the foot. 

Daniel Georgievski needlessly fouled Ben Halloran as the Adelaide forward got his shot away, and Riley McGree buried the resulting spot-kick beyond Daniel Lopar’s reach to equalise.

Nine minutes later, the former Socceroos paceman Halloran brilliantly curled the Reds in front. Nikola Mileusnic found Halloran on the edge of the area, the attacker turned and curled an unstoppable shot past Lopar for his seventh of the campaign. That was Adelaide’s seventh goal from outside the box this season – only Perth Glory, also with seven, can rival that tally. 

It was a frustrating blow for the Wanderers after such a promising start, but the Red and Black were level inside three minutes. Bruce Kamau combined with Schwegler and drew Izzo into a save at the near post, but the ball squirmed out of the goalkeeper’s reach and was prodded over the line by Muller. 

There were four goals inside the 25 minutes, but the first half chaos did not stop there. Adelaide were caught in disarray only 180 seconds later, allowing Duke to pounce on Simon Cox’s flick on, before lashing a fantastic strike which had Izzo beaten all ends up.

Duke punished the visitors again 10 minutes later with a quality run and header. Schwegler’s lofted ball was angled perfectly, no one picked up the Wanderers captain, and the Socceroos forward buried his header past Izzo.

It was the first time the Wanderers have scored four in one half of Hyundai A-League football since their 2012 inception, and the third match in a row the 2014 AFC Champions League winners led at the half time break.

Both teams attempted to establish some structure in the early offerings of the second half and Adelaide enjoyed a prolonged spell of possession after the break but could not force Lopar into action. 

The Wanderers thought they had increased the deficit further when Kamau beat five Adelaide players on an incredible run which started in his own half before teeing up Muller to finish, but the goal was chalked off for offside. 

Kamau was brilliant on the night and the wing-back served up a fifth goal for the Wanderers by playing in Cox, who had his initial attempt blocked by Izzo but volleyed in the rebound with delicate control. 

Round 18

Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers
Friday, 28 February  
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 8.00pm AEDT