Wanderers 2 Mariners 0 | Match Report
A goal in each half has sent the Western Sydney Wanderers into their second successive Grand Final.
NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers have won through to their second successive Hyundai A-League Grand Final with a comprehensive 2-0 win over Central Coast Mariners at Pirtek Stadium.
Goals in each half from Youssouf Hersi and Iacopo La Rocca proved the difference as the Wanderers gained a measure of revenge for defeat against the same opponent in last year-s decider.
The match was billed as a tactical battle between two astute coaches and there were intriguing selections on either side with the Wanderers leaving top scorer Tomi Juric and ball-playing midfielder Aaron Mooy on the bench.
Matches between the pair had been tight over the past two seasons since the Wanderers inception with an average of just 1.71 goals per game over that time.
Indeed, while the match started with good tempo and attacking intent a tight contest seemed assured and so it proved.
The first real chance fell to Nikolai Topor-Stanley who crashed a header against the crossbar from just five yards with Shinji Ono-s corner too much for Mariners- goalkeeper Liam Reddy.
With the Mariners yet to register a single shot it was the Wanderers who scored the crucial opening goal as Hersi pushing home from close range on 31 minutes after Brendan Santalab had driven the ball across the face of goal following Mark Bridge-s rebounded shot.
Crowd favourite Ono, in his final Hyundai A-League game at the venue, then forced Reddy into a sharp catch from a curling free-kick.
In the second stanza Hersi had a chance to virtually end the contest but directed his header from Labinot Haliti-s cross just inches wide of Reddy-s post.
However, with nine minutes remaining the Wanderers took full advantage of the Mariners pushing forward in search of an equaliser and Hersi released La Rocca who finished with ease past the exposed Reddy.
The Wanderers now await the result of Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory to see where the Grand Final will be held.
Keep an eye on wswanderersfc.com.au for all ticketing and venue information.
Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Youssouf Hersi 31', Iacopo La Rocca 81') Central Coast Mariners 0
Crowd: 19,216 @ Pirtek Stadium