Football 3 years ago

Wanderers can beat any team now: Popovic

  • Wanderers can beat any team now: Popovic

They're seven wins on the bounce but Tony Popovic has pronounced Western Sydney's defeat of Melbourne Victory as his side's biggest statement yet this A-League season.

The fans returned to Pirtek Stadium on Saturday night to watch the Wanderers take the ultimate scalp in the reigning champions, an intoxicating 2-0 home triumph that sent them surging four points clear at the top of the table.

While the Victory lost some attacking fluency in the second half, the loss was more due to the hosts' cold-blooded class and Romeo Castelen's pace than any shortcomings of Kevin Muscat's men.

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After a winless first three matches, the Wanderers have been growing into their forward-thinking style, their myriad new personnel combining more seamlessly with each win since.

Popovic thought it fitting that his new championship favourites did not face the dominant Victory until they were starting to reach full potential.

"Maybe earlier in the year if we had Melbourne Victory, maybe we wouldn't have been ready for them," he said.

"But when it gets to round 10 the players are a lot fitter now, the fluency is better, the understanding is better.

"It was the right game for us to play them.

"We've shown that if we play well, it's a team we can beat. It shows we can compete with anyone."

The Victory have slipped from first to fourth below rampant Melbourne City following their first consecutive losses in almost two years.

Coach Kevin Muscat was unwilling to use a heavy travel schedule as an excuse, despite tackling three away fixtures in 11 days and travel spanning New Zealand to Perth.

The squad have a total four days to recover for Wednesday's clash with the Glory before returning home for the season's second Melbourne derby three days later.

The derby rematch shapes as a thrilling encounter after City's Aaron Mooy and Bruno Fornaroli netted braces to belt Newcastle 4-0 in their own backyard to make it 14 goals from three games.

Perth left Central Coast to languish in last place after a Nebojsa Marinkovic double steered Kenny Lowe's struggling outfit to a come-from-behind 2-1 win.

Jamie Maclaren got the job done late for Brisbane to move into second after his winner sealed their own 2-1 fightback victory against Wellington in the first-ever fixture played in Cairns.

Ernie Merrick was not happy.

The Phoenix coach blasted whoever scheduled a mid-afternoon summer kick-off in north Queensland's unforgiving heat and humidity.

He was about as aggrieved as Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold, who refused to take questions in his press conference following the Sky Blues' 10-men 2-1 defeat to lowly Adelaide.

A livid Arnold took issue with a "criminal" stoppage-time penalty to Adelaide that resulted in Marcelo Carrusca's winner, after Jacques Faty was whistled for a challenge on Dylan McGowan.

He said McGowan had told other players there'd been no contact.

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