The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers will face Perth Glory in the Westfield FFA Cup Quarter Finals after overcoming Palm Beach Sharks 2-0 in their Round of 16 clash on the Gold Coast.
Goals to debutant Dimas and defender Brendan Hamill secured what was a relatively comfortable win for the Red & Black, who will now look forward to an away trip to Western Australia.
Tony Popovic made three changes to the team that started in the Round of 32 victory against Brisbane, handing competitive debuts to off-season imports Alberto, Dimas and marquee man Federico Piovaccari.
Early blows were traded without any notable threat as both sides struggled to hold onto sustained possession.
Andrew Redmayne was the first keeper to be called into action, getting down low to stop an effort from distance before Jaushua Sotirio chanced his arm from 20 yards: the 19-year-old’s effort sailing well over the bar.
Mark Bridge was next to strike on goal though his well-executed volley was firmly held by Palm Beach’s Viitakangas between the sticks.
The away team soon began to wrestle control of the game, building slowly from the back and taking the game into Palm Beach’s half.
Piovaccari, who was celebrating his 31st birthday, chested down a lay-off on the edge of the box to a waiting Mitch Nichols but the Palm Beach junior couldn’t keep his shot down.
Bridge then nearly opened the scoring, skipping into the box and sending a sliding shot to the far post that was deflected narrowly off target.
Though the Wanderers wouldn’t have to wait long.
In the 28th minute, Sotirio found himself with plenty of time down the right hand side and the winger took full advantage, whipping a gorgeous ball to the far post where an unmarked Dimas was able to nod home.
In doing so, the Spaniard became the fifth Wanderers player to score on debut.
The goal sparked the Wanderers into action and they immediately assumed the front-foot for the remainder of the first period, pouring forward in numbers and peppering the Palm Beach defence.
Piovaccari saw a pair of half chances miss their mark before Sotirio raced down the left-hand side and sent a curling shot just wide of the far post – when perhaps the better option was a square ball across goal to Nichols.
The Wanderers began the second-half in the same manner in which they ended the first, bossing possession and spreading Palm Beach at will.
Though an injury to Bridge soon after the restart dampened the momentum somewhat, the interim captain pulling up lame with a groin strain.
The Wanderers pressed on with Nichols having a golden chance to put one past his former club but the Southport native couldn’t get enough purchase on Jacob Pepper’s cross.
Josh Macdonald, on for the injured Bridge, went close to adding a second, dancing his way into the box and firing a shot that was saved well by Viitakangas’ legs.
Palm Beach seemed content to sit deep, soak up the Wanderers’ attacks and attempt to search for an equaliser from set-pieces.
But Popovic’s men would have the last say.
Sotirio, a constant threat down the right all game, lashed a shot at Viitakangas who could only palm behind.
From the resulting corner, Palm Beach failed to clear their lines allowing Brendan Hamill to slot the loose ball into the back of the net for what was his first goal in Western Sydney colours.
The Wanderers will now head west to face fellow Hyundai A-League outfit Perth Glory in the quarters, before opening the Hyundai A-League season at home to Brisbane Roar on Thursday 8 October.
Palm Beach 0
Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Dimas 28’, Hamill 86’)
Cbus Super Stadium
Western Sydney Wanderers: Andrew Redmayne (GK), Jacob Pepper, Alberto, Brendan Hamill, Scott Jamieson, Kearyn Baccus, Dimas (Liam Youlley 90’), Jaushua Sotirio, Mitch Nichols, Mark Bridge (Josh Macdonald 50’), Federico Piovaccari (Brendon Santalab 64’)
Click here for a play-by-play summary of the match.