Wanderers Make It Ten In A Row


The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers have overwhelmed Melbourne Heart 3-1 to record the perfect 10 and place a stranglehold on the Premier’s Plate and a spot in the Asian Champions League.

The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers have overwhelmed Melbourne Heart 3-1 to record the perfect 10 and place a stranglehold on the Premier’s Plate and a spot in the Asian Champions League.

Striker Labinot Haliti scored his first double for the A-League’s newest club as they registered their 10th win in a row.

The Wanderers are now eight points clear at the top of the competition table, and former leaders Central Coast Mariners will have to beat Brisbane Roar on Sunday just to keep alive an extremely remote hope of getting back in front over the last two rounds.

But the Wanderers finishing the regular season anywhere but in first place is as unlikely as the Sydney Harbour Bridge falling down now.

The sharp focus of the Wanderers was clear when Haliti said after the game they weren’t getting carried away and would “go back on Monday and start working again”.

“We’re not looking too far ahead,” he said.

“Maybe at the end of the year we can look back at it.”

Talking about his brace, Haliti said: “It’s always good when you get on the scoresheet.

“Last week I had a few chances and could have done better with them – today they went in.”

It was a typical Wanderers win, full of resilience, good decision-making and classy moves to set up goalscoring chances.

The Wanderers had their first clear-cut chance to score in just the sixth minute, when defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley came forward to try to capitalise on a free kick.

Topor-Stanley met the ball from Aaron Mooy with a header from close range, but put the ball into the side netting.

Haliti’s first goal, in the 28th minute, was the result of great opportunism by the Wanderers.

Heart defender Jeremy walker gave Mark Bridge room down the left and Bridge successfully took him on, running the ball all the way into the penalty box and passing to Mooy, who relayed it on to Haliti. He hit first time and the ball went in off the post.

The Wanderers should have gone further ahead in the 37th minute, when a typical move presented Bridge with a great opportunity to score himself.

Mooy tapped the ball into space for Youssouf Hersi, who cut it back to Bridge from the byline.

Bridge had a lot of time to decide what to do and took a touch before shooting, but his on-target strike was blocked and the chance went begging.

Heart danger man Golgol Mebrahtu wasn’t having much luck with his set-piece attempts in the first half, but when he received the ball outside the penalty box in the 39th minute he decided to have a lash at goal on the run.

It was a cracking shot, and Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic couldn’t do anything about it, the ball flashing past his right for the equaliser.

The Heart put the ball in again two minutes before halftime, but the goal was disallowed for offside.

The home side had finished the first half strongly in the wet conditions at AAMI Park, and the break shaped as a great opportunity for the Wanderers to regroup.

Nine minutes into the second half Haliti had a great chance to score when a neat pass from Bridge put him on a run towards goal on the left, but he sprayed his shot high and wide.

The miss did not dent Haliti’s confidence, though, and in the 60th minute he positioned himself perfectly in the box to collect a pass from Iacopo La Rocca and sweep the ball first-time into the back of the net.

The Heart were on the ropes now, and collapsed completely after defender Simon Colisimo was issued a second yellow card for a foul in the 79th minute and sent off.

The last 10 minutes saw shot after shot from the Wanderers, with La Rocca making it 3-1 in the 88th minute.

But the Wanderers lost Mooy and Jerome Molenz to injury during the game, and they will have to be checked along with Shinji Ono, who missed the game with a hamstring injury, ahead of next weekend’s Sydney derby.