The Western Sydney Wanderers have officially opened the Western Sydney Stadium with a credible 2-1 defeat to English Championship side Leeds United.
As the long night of the Olympic Precinct faded away with a spectacular pre-match light & pyro show, the future began for the Western Sydney Wanderers in their new home ground. The Wanderers started with a 5 at the back formation, the starting 11 comprising of Daniel Lopar, Daniel Wilmering, Dylan McGowan, Tass Mourdoukoutas, Tarek Elrich, Bruce Kamau, Pirmin Schwegler, Keanu Baccus, Kwamye Yeboah, Mitch Duke and Radoslaw Majewski.
Leeds were the dominant side early, after a 6th minute error from Mourdoukoutas, Pablo Hernandez toe-poke was turned behind goal by Lopar for a corner. In the 8th minute the visitors took the lead. Dylan McGowan slipped on the slick turf as he tried to close down Harrison, the Leeds attacker pulled a cutback to the edge of the area, and an unmarked Mateusz Bogusz fired an unerring shot into the top corner for 1-0.
The Wanderers looked certain to score through Yeboah & Kamau, as Duke released Kamau into the penalty area, he fired a low cross that eluded the desperate lunge for Yeboah, if he made almost any kind of contact it would have been the first goal at the Western Sydney Stadium for the home side. Leeds nearly doubled their advantage just before the half-time break, Kemar Roofe hit the far post from about 7 yards out.
Shortly after the break the Wanderers did have their opening goal at the stadium and it was assisted by Keanu Baccus and scored by Yeboah. Baccus won the ball in midfield and drove at the Leeds defence, poking a through ball inside the Leeds central defenders, Yeboah running onto the ball and beating Kiko Casilla, the striker with a neat chip over the goalkeeper, that he ran off to celebrate with a backward flip.
As the Wanderers began to ring the changes, effectively playing their NPL NSW youth team in the dying minutes Leeds stepped up a gear themselves and began to reassert themselves, Patrick Bamford forced a top save out of Nick Suman who had replaced Lopar, followed by Hernandez rattling the woodwork with a powerful long range effort.
The onslaught paid dividends for the white roses of Yorkshire as they scored a last gasp winner in front of their long-distance away support. Hernandez picked up the ball in the dying seconds of stoppage time, weaved through a half-dozen Wanderers defenders before pulling the trigger and slamming the ball into the side netting giving Suman no chance.
It was a cruel ending but ultimately one without a huge deal of importance, as the night was as much about the return to Parramatta as it was the result. In that the evening was an unqualified success, the stadium glittering in it's opening for the world game, packed in the supporters for this glamour opening. The performance on the pitch for the Wanderers was about as good as you could expect against a hard charging English Championship side, and particularly one as tactically & technically fluent as Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa. Duke ran his heart out as usual, the foreign midfield duo of Schwegler & Majewski look to have a lot of potential, Keanu Baccus was arguably the Wanderers Man of the Match, Yeboah took his goal well and the rest of the team including the late youth subs were impressive with their application & effort.
The Wanderers start their 2019/20 campaign with an away FFA Cup Round of 32 match against last year's A-League Premiership winning side Perth Glory on Wednesday August 7th.