East Riffa Club vs Western Sydney Wanderers
Date and Local Kick-Off Time at Stadium: Thursday 4 September 2014 - 7:30PM
Sydney Kick-Off Time: 1:30AM September 5th EST
Round: Match 1
Competition: IPIC Championship
Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Stadium: Armed Forces Officers Club Stadium
Click here to view the record
The Western Sydney Wanderers will face FC Seoul in the Asian Champions League Semi-Final after they progressed in the Quarter Final tie against Guangzhou Evergrande on the away goals rule.
Following the 1-0 win in Parramatta, and despite the 2-1 loss on the night, an away goal to Tomi Juric gave Western Sydney victory in a nerve racking tie in China.
Goalkeeper Ante Covic was the hero in the first half with his penalty save. Covic spared the blushes of Iacopo La Rocca who felled Elkeson in the penalty box with an utterly dreadful tackle reminiscent of the one by Lucas Neill against Italy in the World Cup in Germany. Gilardino stepped up to the spot only to be denied by Covic, his penalty was a poor one, almost straight down the middle but with no power or height he effectively hit the strike straight at the Wanderers number 1.
The Wanderers were placed under immense pressure in the second half, but found their vital goal through a penalty of their own. The Evergrande defence were lulled into a false sense of security by Juric being in an offside position, it let Bridge stroll unopposed into the box and he was taken out in a woeful challenge by opposition keeper Zeng Cheng, who received the most red card worthy yellow card I've seen in years.
Juric blasted his penalty to the right side netting to give his side a 1-0 lead on the night and a 2-0 lead on aggregate. Unfortunately for the Wanderers, it looked like the referee gave Juric his own yellow card for the post-goal celebration, and if so, Juric will miss the first leg against Seoul.
The drama was far from over though as Guangzhou immediately pegged the Wanderers back when Diamanti, who was best player on the park for the ACL winners of last year, took advantage of a flick-on that left him wide open for a neat finish under the legs of Covic.
Hearts in mouth time came halfway through the four minutes of stoppage as Guangzhou threatened a miracle escape by scoring their second on the night through Elkeson who had a tap-in at the back post after a goal-line scramble.
The 120 seconds remaining seemed like an eternity, but stoic possession by the Wanderers kept the ball in their attacking half and several fouls later full time was blown, sending the Wanderers into the semi-final in their first appearance in the Asian Champions League via the majestic away goals rule.
The win was the best loss in the history of the club, their progression into the semi-final has only been matched by Australian clubs once, with Adelaide United, who also managed to progress through to the final in the 2008 edition of the competition.
The current ACL schedule, if followed, will see the Wanderers play FC Seoul in Korea in the first leg on the 17th of September, with the return leg on the 1st of October. There are rumours that the club will be playing a friendly tournament in the middle east but there has been no official confirmation as yet.
Guangzhou Evergrande vs Western Sydney Wanderers
Date and Local Kick-Off Time at Stadium: Wednesday 27 August 2014 - 8:00PM
Sydney Kick-Off Time: 10:00PM EST
Round: Quarter Final
Competition: Asian Champions League
Location: Guangzhou, China
Stadium: Tianhe Stadium
Click here to view the record
The Western Sydney Wanderers will take a 1-0 aggregate lead into the second leg of their Asian Champions League quarter final after a remarkable match against ACL Champions Guangzhou Evergrande were beaten by a goal to Antony Golec, followed by finishing the match with just 9 men on the park.
Golec claimed the winner on the hour mark, cutting inside from the left flank before delivering a low cross that beat everyone including the Chinese goalkeeper, who was frozen by the run of Tomi Juric, before nestling into the bottom right hand corner.
Evergrande saw two red cards and their World Cup winning manager Marcello Lippi may face further sanctions as chaos reigned following the dismissals of Zeng Linpeng in the 88th minute and Gao Lin in the 90th.
Shannon Cole has the best chance of the first half, after Haliti stormed down the wing he put a wonderful cross that beat the leaping Evergrande defence, only to see Cole glance the header wide when he should have put his side in front. Liao Lisheng smacked a ball moments before the break that Covic turned away.
The second half was all Wanderers from the opening stages, Tomi Juric menacing the diminutive Chinese defenders and being the cause of the goal from Golec despite not getting a touch. Vitor Saba made his Parramatta Stadium debut and made an immediate impact, gliding around his opponents and drawing numerous fouls, while also showing an appetite for the hard defensive that he will require playing in the A-League for Western Sydney.
Chaos reigned in the last moments of the game, as Linpeng smashed La Rocca with an elbow and was shown a straight red, followed minutes later by compatriot Lin who kicked Vitor Saba in the face and quickly joined Linpeng for an early shower. At that point Lippi stormed onto the pitch and confronted the referee, who eventually regained control, denied Juric a penalty in the final seconds then ended the match.
The result means any draw or win for the Wanderers will see them through to the Semi-Final, while even a 2-1 loss would be enough to progress on away goals.
The Wanderers next match is Leg 2 of the Asian Champions League quarter finals against Guangzhou Evergrande, in China, played on Wednesday the 27th of August.
The Western Sydney Wanderers have signed Seyi Adeleke from Lazio of Italy.
The Nigerian 22 year old central midfielder/left fullback joins the club having spent the majority of the past three seasons on numerous loan spells away from the Italian giants, who decided to cut their losses and allow Adeleke to leave the club on a free transfer to Western Sydney.
There is no word as yet to how long the contract is for, but even a 1 year deal will put heavy pressure on the place of Iacopo La Rocca, while a 2 year deal would surely see the end of the Italian central midfielder, as the A-League, under pressure from the local players association, will cut the number of foreigner places from 5 to 4 at the conclusion of the 2014/15 season.
Adeleke is the 21st signing in a potentially 23 strong A-League squad, leaving two positions, one of which is widely tipped to be filled by Australian forward James Troisi.