Sanfrecce 3 Wanderers 1 | Match Report
The Wanderers have given themselves a fighting chance of qualifying for the Quarter Finals with a 3-1 loss to Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
The Western Sydney Wanderers have given themselves a fighting chance of qualifying for the AFC Champions League Quarter Finals in their debut season with a 3-1 loss to Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the first leg of the Round of 16.
A crucial away goal from Tomi Juric means that a 2-0 victory is all that is needed in the return leg at Parramatta Stadium on Wednesday 14 May for the Wanderers to become the first Australian team to make it to the Quarter Finals at their first attempt.
With just two starters from Sunday-s Grand Final against Brisbane Roar in Ante Covic and Matthew Spiranovic, the Wanderers played like a team with something to prove in the first half, picking holes in the Hiroshima defence and creating a number of chances.
Spiranovic in particular was playing well in his defensive midfield role; dictating play and almost getting on the score sheet himself but his sliding shot rolled just wide.
Labinot Haliti had the best of the chances before half time with his most notable effort a header at the far post that was only denied by some last ditch defending.
With an impressive performance level the Red and Black came out of the sheds at half time with confidence but the home side took a shock lead against the run of play.
Naoki Ishihara hit an unstoppable shot from the top of the box before following it up with a sublime chip to claim his double and put the Three Arrows up by two goals.
Not to be discouraged the Wanderers continued to attack and were rewarded when a strong Juric run was rewarded with a penalty as he was brought down in the box.
Putting away the spot-kick with aplomb the Wanderers attacked with renewed vigour but were unable to capitalise; instead conceding an unfortunate third goal to end the first half of the tie at 3-1.
With away goals counting double if scores are even after the two legs and with Shinji Ono-s final ever match for the Wanderers on Wednesday a huge crowd would play a major part in the Wanderers chasing down the attainable result needed.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the second leg of the Round of 16 will be played on Wednesday 14 May at Parramatta Stadium with kick-off at 7:30pm.
Tickets are available here.