The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers have sealed second place in the Hyundai A-League and in doing so have secured a place in the AFC Champions League for a third time.With the 2-0 win over Wellington Phoenix, the Red & Black have also earned a week off before returning to the original Wanderland one last time for a home semi-final.
In the four short years that the Wanderers have existed they have finished in the top two three times, appeared in two Grand Finals, won one Premiership and became the first Australian club to win the AFC Champions League.
Having to rely on results to seal first place, hopes of a second premiership evaporated on Friday night as Adelaide United defeated Melbourne City, but with Roar failing to defeat Melbourne Victory second place was up for grabs with a win over Wellington.
It looked to have been the perfect start when Brendon Santalab was fouled in the box but referee Shaun Evans waved away shouts for what looked like a blatant penalty.
Wellington almost took full advantage hitting the post before Dimas and Romeo Castelen had chances for the Wanderers.
The Red & Black then had Andrew Redmayne to thank for remaining in contention for second place when he made two saves, including one spectacular finger-tipped effort, to keep the Wanderers in the match.
The save proved crucial as on the very next attack the Wanderers took the lead through Brendon Santalab.
With Castelen driving into the box, his cross saw a number of deflections before it hit Santalab’s leg and rolled over the goal line.
That goal put the striker one goal behind Mitch Nichols in the golden boot standing and only minutes later he had equalled Nichols’ tally of ten as he scored one of the goals of the season.
Starting deep in their own half, a number of sweeping passes from the Wanderers saw the ball at Castelen’s feet before he layed-off to Santalab.
Santalab didn’t waste any time, smashing a low, fierce drive into the back of the net.
From there it was a professional performance from the Wanderers that sealed the club’s third AFC Champions League appearance in four seasons and a Hyundai A-League home semi-final.