Western Sydney Wanderers’ season of woe continued when on Saturday night they were beaten 2-1 by Adelaide United in Adelaide. Although unlucky to concede the match-winner in the second minute of injury time, the Asian club champions again squandered several opportunities in front of goal.
Western Sydney took a shock lead in the 19th minute when Labinot Haliti poked home a Brendon Santalab pass from close range. Three minutes later, Nikita Rukavytsya should have extended the visitor’s lead but Reds’ keeper Eugene Galekovic pulled off a brilliant save to deny the 27-year-old his second goal of the season.
Santalab, who had scored goals in the Wanderers’ previous two games, was then forced from the field in the 33rd minute after suffering what looked like a recurrence of his troublesome shoulder injury. His departure proved to be a crucial one.
Socceroo Tomi Juric replaced Santalab but his contribution proved to be listless and ineffective as Adelaide struck twice through Bruce Djite and Brazilian Cirio. To make matters worse, Juric squandered a golden opportunity to put his side in the lead in the 82nd minute, while teammate Matthew Spiranovic was sent off late in the game after collecting a second yellow card.
Despite the result, Western Sydney played some excellent football against an Adelaide side that has serious title aspirations. Indeed, had the visitors taken their opportunities, they could have easily wrapped up the game by halftime. But it wasn’t to be.
Adelaide now sits in third place on the ladder behind Melbourne Victory, while the Wanderers remain dead last in a season that just goes from bad to worse.
The Wanderers must now recover for Wednesday’s Asian Champions League clash against Kashima Antlers in Japan. It may be too late to salvage anything from the A-League so perhaps now is the perfect time for the Wanderers to shift their primary focus from domestic football to an all-out assault on defending their Asian continental title.