Second half goals to Mark Bridge and the excellent Romeo Castelen has spurred Western Sydney Wanderers to a 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday night.
In an action-packed clash befitting a top-of-the-table contest, the Wanderers continued their incredible winning streak to suggest there’s a new favourite for the title.
Bridge struck nine minutes after the break to send the home side on their way before man-of-the-match Castelen made the points safe 11 minutes from the end
It’s now seven wins in a row for the Wanderers while Victory drop to third on the back of two straight defeats.
1-0 Bridge (54’) – Scott Neville’s defence-splitting pass released Romeo Castelen in behind the Victory defence, the Dutchman unselfishly squaring to Bridge for a simple tap-in at the far post. A well-worked goal.
2-0 Castelen (79’) – Picking up possession about 30 yards from goal, Castelen played the ball one side of Georgievski before racing around the other side and regaining the ball. He tried his luck from a tight angle and it was too hot for Danny Vukovic to handle, sneaking in at the near post.
In a pulsating first half which ebbed and flowed from end-to-end, Victory had a couple of great chances to edge in front.
First following an Andrew Redmayne fumble, Daniel Georgievski hit a pile-driver towards goal which hit Besart Berisha and smashed onto the crossbar and down…but not over the line.
Less than 10 minutes later Kosta Barbarouses – after a brilliant one-two with Berisha – almost beat Redmayne, with Scott Neville clearing his poked effort off the line.
The Wanderers made the most of their next chance after the break and the three points was theirs.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The win was the Wanderers first against Melbourne Victory in their last five meetings dating back to the 2013-14 season.
It’s also the first time Victory have lost back-to-back matches in the A-League since Australia Day in 2014.
Bridge’s goal means he has now scored in each of his last four starts.
What a cracking 90 minutes it was at Wanderland.
The Hyundai A-League’s top two put on a show for the 17,000+ fans in a contest that lived up to the pre-game hype.
The match had a bit of everything. Sublime football, great atmosphere, missed chances, a couple of penalty shouts and some great skill.
No doubt these two are destined to meet again at some point during the finals.
Vukovic has been one of the form goal-keepers in the A-League for a number of seasons now but he came up with a shocking error for the Wanderers second goal.
Sure Castelen’s strike had plenty of venom behind it but the experienced gloveman should have done better than parry it into his own net.
Once that goal went in, it was always going to be a bridge to far for Victory to mount a fightback.
THE FINAL WORD
Another week, another win for the Wanderers. With each victory it’s starting to feel a lot like it was in the club’s debut season where they went all the way to the Premiers’ Plate. Tony Popovic’s side has now opened up a four-point gap at the top of the ladder ahead of a trip to Perth Glory next Saturday night.
That’s now two losses on the spin for Victory. While it’s nowhere near a crisis yet, it hasn’t be the same high standards we’ve come to expect from Kevin Muscat’s side over the last 18 months. They get a chance to rectify things on Wednesday night with their rescheduled clash, also away at Glory.
Western Sydney Wanderers: Redmayne (gk), Neville, Alberto, Topor-Stanley (c), Jamieson, Andreu, Dimas, Nichols, Castelen (Mebrahtu 84’), Vidosic (Sotirio 72’, Bridge (Santalab 74’)
Melbourne Victory: Vukovic (gk), Geria (Howard 87’), Broxham (c), Delpierre, Georgievski, Mahazi (Gallifuoco 77’), Bozanic, Barbarouses, Finkler, Ben Khalfallah (Pain 67’), Berisha
Scorers: Bridge 54’, Castelen 79’
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Nichols 20’, Ben Khalfallah 43’, Andreu 56’, Geria 66’, Barbarouses 70’, Santalab 85’, Mebrahtu 86’, Sotirio 88’
Conditions: 19C, Overcast
Attendance: 17,073 @ Pirtek Stadium