Western Sydney Wanderers are into the FFA Cup 2018 Semi-Finals with a 2-1 win over Melbourne City tonight.
Markus Babbel sprung a surprise on the Melbourne City opposition with the selection of fast winger Jaushua Sotirio in the starting lineup. City for their part kept most of their powder dry, leaving the likes of Ritchie De Laet and Florin Berenguer.
Josh Risdon was lucky in the 7th minute to not give away a penalty for a handball, as he attempted blocking a cross from Dario Vidosic. Replays were inconclusive but suggested it was off the national team fullbacks chest or back.
That warning for Risdon clearly didn't reach his brain, as in the 11th minute, with absolutely no danger to the side in the offing, Risdon handled the ball and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a spot kick. Bruno Fornaroli the star attacker stepped up, but his ambling 'walk up' resulted in a weak shot that rolled wide, despite Nizic having gone the wrong way. Fornaroli should have opened his account a few minutes later, Lachie Wales broke down the right flank and beat the Wanderers wide defence of Llorente & Bonevacia, his cut back was perfect and surprisingly Fornaroli smashed it wide right.
Western Sydney should have taken the lead themselves in the 20th minute. A cute free kick trick play saw the Wanderers play a number of wonderful short fast passes, the final ball however was behind the attackers, had it been more accurate or had the runners made a delayed run they would have had a tap-in. The Wales/Fornaroli combination gave another fright to the Wanderers, with Wales athletically jumping to lift a cross to the penalty area, Fornaroli found it with his head but touched it over the bar.
The game finally had a piece of consistent quality in the 32nd minute, as the away side took a 1-0 lead somewhat against the run of play. Baumjohan stepped in to deliver a corner, his flat in swinging ball to the near post found the head of Riera, and the marquee striker glanced a perfect header through the bodies into the back of the net.
Luke Brattan lost the ball in a dangerous position to a Riera challenge, and the striker swept it on to Sotirio, who got a bit lucky with a mis kicked shot, it rolled into the path or Roly Bonevacia and he lashed the ball home to make it 2-0 to the Wanderers just before half-time. The goal saw the two sides head to the break, the Wanderers having overcome their early wobbles to storm to the lead and hold it. City with their early failures didn't recover mentally and began giving the ball away and resorting to breaking up the Wanderers attack with blatant fouling.
Unfortunately for the Wanderers their 2 goal cushion only lasted 7 minutes. Melbourne City, with momentum given to them by a series of refereeing decisions, attacked and picked up a corner. Despite an awful corner, it fell to Riley McGree and he arrowed a shot into the top corner.
The first sub of the night came in the 56th minute, and it was one that may result in further interest from the media. Kearyn Baccus stormed off the pitch after being replaced by Marc Tokich, throwing his shirt to the ground angrily as he stomped up the tunnel.
Melbourne City began throwing players forward chasing the game, helped by a compliant very home team biased referee who blew his whistle every time a City player theatrically fell to the floor. Tarek Elrich replaced Sotirio to bring more defensive muscle onto the park for the Wanderers. Despite the help of the ref and a huge amount of possession, Melbourne City huffed & puffed but couldn't penetrate a stoic Wanderers defence, and Western Sydney became the first team into the Semi-Finals of the 2018 FFA Cup.