In front of a packed house in Parramatta, the Wanderers become just the second A-League club to reach the AFC Champions League final
Western Sydney Wanderers have completed their fairytale run to the AFC Champions League (ACL) final after a 2-0 win over a shell-shocked FC Seoul on Wednesday night.
Goals in either half to Mateo Poljak and the returning Shannon Cole completed the historic 2-0 aggregate semi-final win in front of just under 19,000 fans at a rocking Pirtek Stadium.
It means the fledgling club that is just over two years old have become only the second Australian side to make the continental decider, following on from Adelaide United in 2008.
Tony Popovic’s side will face Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia over two legs in the final, with the first match in Sydney on October 25, followed by the second leg away a week later.
Even without key striker Tomi Juric, who injured his groin in training on Monday, the Wanderers still had too much firepower for a Seoul outfit that have now gone four ACL games in a row without a goal.
But all that matters very little to the Wanderers, who continue to defy the odds and are now just 180 minutes away from being crowned the kings of Asia.
After a 0-0 stalemate in the first leg it was always going to be a tense night with the first goal going along way to deciding who would win the tie.
And the Wanderers couldn’t have dreamed of a better start as Poljak scored his first ACL goal inside the first three minutes.
Seoul keeper Yu Sang-hun punched Shannon Cole’s free-kick right into the path of the Croatian waiting just outside the box.
Poljak showed great control and awareness to keep his first-time volley down, finding its way through a slew of players and into the back of the net to get Wanderland jumping.
And the home side should have doubled their lead just four minutes later when Brendon Santalab was sent through by Iacopo La Rocca but his effort bounced just the wrong side of the post.
It took until the half-hour mark for Seoul to really get into the contest and their best chance of the half came 12 minutes before the break.
Antony Golec could only clear Kim Chi-woo’s cross into the path of Cha Du-ri and his deflected shot was headed towards the goal before Brendan Hamill nodded the ball away to safety.
Chasing the goal needed to get them through, the visitors lifted their intensity at the start of the second half but struggled to penetrate the well-structured – and at times desperate – Wanderers defence.
Cole’s brilliant sliding challenge to block Osmar Barba’s effort epitomized the home side’s commitment.
But as Seoul kept coming, the Wanderers got the vital second goal through Cole almost midway through the half.
Labinot Haliti hung up a left-wing cross to the far post with Cole, who missed the first leg through suspension, outmuscling his marker and diverting his header past Yu.
The home side were then content to sit back and hold onto their lead, snuffing out any hope of a late Seoul fightback to continue their remarkable run in their debut ACL campaign.
Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Poljak 3, Cole 64)
FC Seoul 0