Western Sydney Wanderers make it two from two to start the season following a 1-0 win over the Melbourne Victory in a fiery affair at AAMI Park.
Back on their home deck and with a big crowd behind them. the Victory appeared to be amped early, asserting themselves on the contest in the early stages of the game.
Picking up from where he left against Sydney FC, Nani was in amongst the action early and would come close to breaking the deadlock in the 11th minute with shot from close range denied by the post. They’d also be the more physical of the two sides, Paul Izzo colliding into Milos Ninkovic with a diving save before Leigh Broxham received a yellow card minutes later with high challenge on Kusini Yengi on the left wing.
The Wanderers biggest chance finally came in the 29th minute, having been played through cleverly by Kusini Yengi, their Bosnian forward Sulejman Krpić found himself one-on-one with Victory’s Paul Izzo, with Melbourne’s shot stopper up to the task and denying the Wanderers the go-ahead goal.
Though despite being on the back foot it’d be Western Sydney who broke deadlock in the 41st minute via an unlikely source, centre-back Tomislav Mrcela. After his initial shot from the centre of the box was denied by Izzo, he’d pounce on the save and wouldn’t be denied the second time firing into an empty net.
Behind 1-0 at the break, it was a more desperate Victory which turned up in the second half, not content just to hold possession the side looked threatening to level with Jake Brimmer coming twice before scoring.
Tempers flaring in the latter stages of the game when Nicholas D’Agostino was brought down inside his attacking half by Calem Nieuwenhof, who got a yellow card for his troubles, with scuffles breaking out between the two sides.
Though the Victory had their chances late, the Wanderers would withstand the pressure, holding on for encouraging victory on the road in a hostile atmosphere taking maximum points from their opening two games.
Melbourne Victory 0
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Mrcela 41′)
Things looking up at Wanderland
Having underachieved in recent seasons, the new-look Wanderers look to have turned the corner with Marko Rudan now at the helm. In the opening two games of the season the Wanderers have looked strong defensively, with the back four of Adama Traore, Tomislav Mrcela, Marcelo Guedes and Gabirel Cleur withstand the Victory pressure, with Lawrence Thomas having a quiet night before the sticks.
Starting the season having gone unbeaten in the opening two rounds, it appears the fortunes are slowly starting to turn for the Wanderers.
Wanderers becoming the Victory’s bogey side
Coming into their clash losing just one of their past five fixtures against the Victory, their road trip would prove to be also fruitful once again taking points off their Melbourne-based rivals.
Though finishing tonight with far less of the possession and registering five fewer shots on goal, the Wanderers were the more clinical of the two going forward, with the side dangerous on the counterattack.
With their next meeting in April, the Victory will have to wait several months now to get their own back and buck the trend.
Signees hitting the ground running
In a tough road trip, it was the Wanderers’ newest players that had the biggest impact against the Victory, with Marko Rudan surely encouraged with what his recruits produced.
Calem Nieuwenhof put in a masterful display in midfield, pushing forward to create chances while also pushing back and being impactful defensively with none recoveries and three interceptions.
Marcelo was a brick at the back with the centre-half putting in a masterful display, Kusini Yengi was brilliant again on the left wing proving to be threatening on the wing.
Showing good signs early, the trio look to be shrwed bit of business for the club.