Heart 2 Wanderers 3 | Match Report
Wanderers completed an incredible never-say-die comeback to defeat Heart 3-2, effectively securing second place on the table and a home semi-final.
NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers completed an incredible never-say-die comeback to defeat Melbourne Heart 3-2 at AAMI Park on Saturday, effectively securing second place on the table and a home semi-final.
Goals from Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Brendan Santalab and Youssouf Hersi sealed the victory for the away team after Heart had equalised and then taken the lead through Orlando Engelaar and Jason Hoffman respectively.
Tony Popovic's team will secure the runner up berth and enjoy a prized week off once they return from the AFC Champions League with the team leaving for Korea on Sunday.
After a tight start to the match the Wanderers began to wrestle control and it was the Red and Black who drew first blood. Topor-Stanley connected with Shinji Ono's dipping free-kick to send a looping header from beyond the penalty spot over Tando Velaphi and into the back of the net.
Heart levelled the scores seven minutes later when Engelaar unleashing an unstoppable long-range strike.
Jonatan Germano threatened to become the villain of the piece for the home side when he gave a penalty in the 67th minute. Ono however, usually so poised with the dead ball, blasted his spot-kick against the crossbar.
The Wanderers were made to rue their profligacy just minutes later as the hosts took the lead for the first time in the game courtesy of Hoffman's deflected strike which Covic could do nothing about.
In the 81st minute Western Sydney levelled as Brendon Santalab made an immediate impact off the bench as he has done so many times this season.
Fullback Jerome Polenz played in behind the Heart defence and crossed to the centre of the penalty area. Despite being fouled in the area by Robbie Weilaert Santalab kept his feet; brushing off the centre back before hitting the back of the net with a classy side-footed volley.
And the Red and Black pounced again five minutes later when Hersi pick-pocketed a Heart defender in the penalty box before unleashing a low strike that sent the large travelling contingent into euphoria.
Melbourne Heart 2 (Engelaar 34', Hoffman 72') Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Topor-Stanley 27', Santalab 81', Hersi 86')