Western Sydney Wanderers celebrate homecoming despite late Leeds winner


Western Sydney Wanderers made an emotional return to Wanderland in a thrilling, 2-1 stoppage time defeat against Leeds United.

Three years after leaving the old Parramatta Stadium, Markus Babbel’s side fell behind against the English Championship giants after Mateusz Bogusz’s ninth-minute goal was the first scored in Bankwest Stadium. 

New Wanderers recruits Pirmin Schwegler, Radoslaw Majewski, Dylan McGowan and goalkeeper Daniel Lopar played their first minutes in a frenetic first-half which could have easily seen more goals at both ends.

Western Sydney fans were able to celebrate the moment they dreamed of in the 48th minute when Yeboah converted a perfect through ball from childhood Wanderers fan Keanu Baccus to level the scores and send the home faithful wild.

After a slew of substitutions opened up the game, Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites piled on the pressure in the closing stages and Pablo Hernandez capped an outstanding display by netting the winner with essentially the final kick of a memorable occasion.

Local boy Mitchell Duke, who grew up 20km down the road in Liverpool, led out his boyhood team, while 18-year-old left-back Daniel Wilmering, once a ball boy at the old Parramatta Stadium, made his first senior start in a red and black jersey.

After a cagey opening, the visitors threatened on eight minutes when Hernandez sent Swiss keeper Lopar full stretch from the edge of the box. A minute later, Bogusz made no mistake from a similar position following Jack Harrison’s stampeding run.

The goal did not dampen the mood and Wanderers burst into life when Duke found Bruce Kamau in space. The right winger’s cross just evaded the out-stretched Yeboah with an open goal gaping.

The English side carved open the Wanderers defence a number of times but Kamau came millimetres away from levelling on 25 minutes when he turned Schwegler’s perfect pass towards goal but Gaetano Berardi scrambled back to clear off the line.

Keanu Baccus used to watch Western Sydney as a fan in the old Parramatta Stadium.

Bogusz, Stuart Dallas, Jack Harrison, Kemar Roofe and Patrick Bamford rained in shots on the Wanderers goal to close out the first half but none of them could find the target. Bamford came closest when he rattled Lopar’s crossbar, and Leeds paid the price when they were stunned after the restart. 

As Western Sydney overturned possession on 48 minutes, Baccus showed expert vision to free Yeboah and one touch was all the 25-year-old striker needed to send the Red and Black Bloc behind the goal into raptures.

Wave after wave of Leeds attacks followed but Bielsa’s free-flowing play could not find a way through as chief tormentor Hernandez fired over and Lopar make a sensational finger-tip save from Bamford’s close-range volley on 68 minutes.

With the game opening up, Baccus’ 25-yard effort stung the hands of ex-Real Madrid goalkeeper Kiko Cassila on 70 minutes before Dallas blasted a low strike across the face of goal and Hernandez crashed a strike against the Wanderers crossbar.

It seemed Wanderers were going to hang on to a share of the spoils as the game entered the 95th minute, but a piece of individual brilliance from Hernandez, cutting in from the right and slamming the ball into the top goal of Western Sydney’s goal decided it.