The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers registered an emphatic 3-1 win against Melbourne City on Friday night at Spotless Stadium thanks to a sensational Brendon Santalab hat-trick.
Despite City taking an early lead through a heavily deflected goal, it was a Santalab hat-trick, his first as a Wanderer, that propelled the Red & Black to a victory that firmly cements them in the top six.
The game had barely settled when the away side took the lead after Neil Kilkenny’s shot from outside the box took a wicked deflection off the back of Jonathan Aspropotamitis, leaving Vedran Janjetovic with no chance.
The Wanderers had a golden chance to respond immediately as Mitch Nichols was sent through on goal, though the midfielder’s effort was smothered by Thomas Sorensen in goal.
Twenty minutes in and the Red & Black had their goal after some neat interplay from Nichols and Nico Martínez on the edge of the box saw the latter slip in Brendon Santalab, who powered a low strike past Sorensen at the near post.
It was Santalab’s 12th goal of the campaign, the most by a Wanderer in a single Hyundai A-League season.
Soon after, Nichols again went close to finding the back of the net when he met Jack Clisby’s cross on the half-volley, though his attempt just sailed above Sorensen’s crossbar.
The Wanderers should’ve entered the sheds 2-1 up when Nichols played Martínez inside the box but the Argentine put the ball the wrong side of the post with the goal at his mercy.
After the break, the Wanderers continued to pepper the City backline.
Nichols was again in the thick of the action with a pair of half-chances but was unable to trouble Sorensen with either.
With 25 minutes left in the match, it was Santalab who would break the deadlock with his second of the match, heading home a fabulous Scott Neville cross.
And moments later, the striker notched up only the third hat-trick scored by a Wanderer, reacting first to a deflected aerial ball to bravely nod past Sorensen.
In what was a frantic period, Melbourne City had a chance to pull one back from the spot after Kearyn Baccus was adjudged to have brought down Nick Fitzgerald inside the area.
Bruno Fornaroli stepped up to take the penalty for City but his effort was denied by the legs of a diving Janjetovic.
The Wanderers finished the match strongly to record their first back-to-back wins this Hyundai A-League season.
Tony Popovic and co will now look to build on their momentum when they travel to take on the Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.