Adelaide United have lifted the A-League Championship after a 3-1 win at Adelaide Oval tonight.
The Western Sydney Wanderers never looked like winning, handing the initiative to the home side from early in the contest, with a brief flurry of activity in the second half not enough to even draw level.
Bruce Kamau opened the scoring in front of 50,000 spectators, taking advantage of seriously inept defending from Scott Jamieson to turn in Marcelo Carrusca's cross unmarked. it got worse for the visitors after half an hour, as Nikolai Topor-Stanley gave away a silly foul just outside the box. Isaias stepped up to the dead ball and curled it over the wall, and into the top left corner of Andrew Redmayne's goal, a striker that no keeper in the world would have stopped.
The most unlikely of sources gave the Wanderers a sniff, on the hour mark Santalab combined with Castelen, the striker laying the ball with a flick into the path of Scott Neville, who unleashed a stunning outside of the foot half-volley that flew into the back of the net.
While the Wanderers huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser, it was Adelaide who eventually blew the house down, substitute Pablo Sanchez taking advantage of a horrible error by Kearyn Baccus, gifting the ball to Sanchez inside the box, his shot was past Redmayne and his poor attempted save, clinching the Championship on the stroke of 90 minutes.
After coming from 3 behind last week against the Roar, Tony Popovic was outcoached, and his team outplayed, as Adelaide swarmed the Wanderers midfield, giving Dimas & Andreu no time on the ball. The Wanderers attack went silent once again, as Castelen reverted to his usual 5 touches then lose the ball ways, Mark Bridge might as well have been wearing a cloaking device, and Mitch Nichols could easily have been yanked off the pitch before half-time, and even though he got through to the break, only lasted 10 minutes after it.
The off season promises yet another clear out. It is time to let Mark Bridge & Topor-Stanley go after their Asian pay cheques, forigeners Alberto Aguilar, Andreu, Castelen & Piovaccari are all set to leave the club in the weeks to come, U21 players Liam Youlley, Shayne D'Cunha & Daniel Alessi are also up on the chopping block, short term signings Matt Sim & Liam Reddy have not done much to expect a full season renewal, and Golgol Mebrahtu will be cut after making no mark on the A-League after 3 seasons.
The Wanderers will play next season at Sydney Olympic Park, as Parramatta Stadium is demolished for a 3+ year new build. Despite the Grand Final loss the club will play a 3rd Asian Champions League campaign.
Adelaide United vs Western Sydney Wanderers
Date and Local Kick-Off Time at Stadium: Sunday 1 May 2016 - 3:30PM
Sydney Kick-Off Time: 4:00PM EST
Round: Grand Final
Competition: A-League Final Series
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Stadium: Adelaide Oval
Click here to view the record
A ridiculous comeback from 3-0 down set up an extra time thriller that ended in a 5-4 win that sends the Western Sydney Wanderers to the grand final in Adelaide next week.
In what was the true last match for the Western Sydney Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium before it is rebuilt, the two sides delivered an epic match that could quite rightly be called the best A-League game ever, for a place in the Grand Final against Adelaide.
The visitor Roar took the lead after 15 minutes. A set piece saw Andreu judged to have handballed inside the box with the resultant penalty being taken by Dimitri Petratos. Petratos' powerful strike evaded Andrew Redmayne for a 0-1 scoreline.
The night went from bad to worse for Andreu, as he added an own goal to his penalty handball. After giving away the free kick in the first place, he failed to maintain an appropriate bodyshape in the 6 yard box as Coronoa whipped in a fast ball into the middle of the area. A desperate flick of his leg couldn't stop the ball rebounding off his back, giving Redmayne no chance at all.
The self-inflicted wounds came again to see Roar take a 3-0 lead. A long ball down the right flank found Brandon Borello, his first time cut-back found Jamie Maclaren. The gun striker turned and fired, an unfortunate deflection from Alberto Aguilar caused the ball to tumble past the outstretched arm of Redmayne.
Thankfully for the Wanderers they were the next to score. Jade North gave away a foul with a poor tackle on Brendon Santalab, just outside the D semi-circle and right in front. Romeo Castelen stepped up to take the free kick. Jamie Young made a complete mess of his wall, giving the Wanderers a straight shot at the goal. The bad placement was compounded by a terrible reaction to Castelen's shot. The winger fired straight at goal, the keeper had taken a step to his left before the ball had been struck, putting him off-balance as the shot whistled past at a thunderous pace.
5 minutes before half-time the Wanderers cut the Roar's lead down to 1 goal. Dimas Delgado spotted the Roar defence playing far too high up the park, and set Brendon Santalab a task with a neat ball over the top. Santalab burned James Donachie and his idiotic man-bun for pace, then turned Donachie around, fired at near post past Jamie Young to make the game 3-2.
Momentum stayed with the Wanderers in the second half, and it didn't take long for Castlen to secure his brace and put the Wanderers level with Brisbane. A set piece was cleared by Corono but only as far as Scott Jamieson. The fullback lofted the ball back into the penalty area where it was knocked down by Nikolai Topor-Stanley into the path of Mitch Nichols. The ball sat up reasonably well and he shot at goal, it was palmed away by Jamie Young but Mark Bridge pounced, his shot rebounding off Young only to fall right at the feet of Castelen who fired into the roof of the net to make the game 3-3.
Until this game no team had ever come from 3 goals behind to take the lead. On the hour mark Dimas fired a free kick into the penalty box, where Young elected to punch, it looped into the air. Thomas Broich & Romeo Castelen tangled as the ball came down, Broich apparently losing it in the air, allowing Castelen to strike a thunderbolt on the half-volley that blew past Jamie Young.
Brisbane, having to score to send the game into extra time, began to press higher and higher, and eventually that paid dividends. A counter-attack started by Hervas ended with Tommy Oar, who released Henrique, he attempted a shot only to screw it wide but perfectly into the path of Maclaren who had a tap-in from 6 yards out to bring the game level once again. Extra time inched closer and closer with neither team willing to lose in normal time.
The first half of extra time began with Wanderers dominating the play, with a handful of chances going begging from Bridge & Castelen among others before they finally took one in the 102nd minute. Shannon Cole's neat work in the middle found Mark Bridge who played a 1-2 with Dario Vidosic. A placed shot had Young diving to push the ball away, Bridge reacted first, he pounced on the loose ball and slammed the ball across the face of the goal, Vidosic's near post run was rewarded as the marquee attacker flicked over Young to make the score an incredible 5-4.
Brisbane were out on their feet, and even with the help of Queensland referee Peter Green on their side, weren't able to equalise again to take the game to penalties. The Wanderers triumphed after 120 minutes of scintillating football, and they will face Adelaide next Sunday in their 3rd attempt to win the A-League Championship.
Western Sydney Wanderers vs Brisbane Roar
Date and Local Kick-Off Time at Stadium: Sunday 24 April 2016 - 5:00PM
Sydney Kick-Off Time: 5:00PM EST
Competition: A-League Final Series
Location: Parramatta, New South Wales
Stadium: Parramatta Stadium
Click here to view the record
A measure of revenge was dished out by the Western Sydney Wanderers against Wellington today, with a Santalab brace giving his side three points, and securing second position on the A-League ladder.
It was a dominant display by the Wanderers, and after half an hour they were in front. Romeo Castelen, mining his rich vein of form, stormed down the right flank onto the byline. His low cross beat Andrew Durante at the near post, the ball bobbling between Santalab & Ben Sigmund before dribbling over the line for the opening goal.
Santalab had his brace minutes before half-time. Castelen was involved again, this time in a more central position as he beat Sigmund then laid off a short ball into the path of the striker. Santalab lined up a shot from just inside the area, firing past Glen Moss at the far post. Replays showed Moss was unable to react to the the strong shot bouncing in front of him.
Wellington tried hard in the second half, mounting pressure against the Wanderers but it all came to nought. Western Sydney ran out the game with measured possession and tight passing triangles, running Wellington out of the game.
The Premiership itself, having slipped away on Friday night when Adelaide defeated a tired Melbourne City, went to South Australia on the back of Brisbane's draw with Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.
In front a strong away support contingent, the win gave Western Sydney 2nd spot, as they finished equal with Brisbane Roar on points but ahead on goal difference. The finals picture has now been confirmed as Perth lost the final game of the round.
Week 1 of the finals will see Brisbane Roar play Melbourne Victory for the second week running, this time in Brisbane on Friday night. On Sunday, two losing sides will line up at AAMI Park, with Melbourne City facing Perth Glory.
Week 2 has Adelaide United play the lowest ranked week 1 winner, in Adelaide and Western Sydney playing the highest ranked winner from week 1. The winning teams from those fixtures will play in the Grand Final.