Wanderers steal 2-1 A-League win over Reds
Photo Source: AAP
A double from Western Sydney substitute Brendon Santalab steered the visitors to a dramatic 2-1 A-League win over Adelaide United on Friday night at Coopers Stadium.
The striker came off the bench just after the hour mark to bag a brace, including an injury-time winner.
Last season's grand final rematch had plenty of fireworks early with Wanderers full-back Jack Clisby booked after laying a crunching tackle on Sergio Cirio inside the first minute.
The Reds' winger struggled to recover and was forced from the field after 10 minutes to be replaced by Ryan Kitto.
Western Sydney had the better of the chances thereafter as Kerem Bulut combined with Jumpei Kusukami on 20 minutes but the effort was thwarted by Eugene Galekovic.
Jumpei tried his luck again minutes later but fired his shot just over the bar.
Kitto's influence grew as the half wore on and the speedster managed to get the better of Clisby on the half hour, teeing up Henrique who blasted his effort into the stands.
The two combined again to break the deadlock two minutes before halftime with Kitto flying past his opponent to provide the perfect cut back.
Henrique controlled, swivelled and beat Wanderers goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne from 10 metres to score his first goal for United.
The Reds almost grabbed a second within minutes of the restart courtesy of a swift counter attack through Kitto but the Wanderers held firm.
The visitors lifted the intensity following the introduction of Nicolas Martinez and Santalab, and Dimas nearly drew the two sides level but his free kick was tipped over the bar by Galekovic.
Adelaide defender Tarek Elrich was forced to clear off the line from the resulting corner when a Mitch Nichols' ricochet was goal-bound.
Western Sydney eventually found a leveller after a neat passage of play on 67 minutes.
Clisby released Nichols wide on the right and his driven cross was tapped in from close range by Santalab.
The pair combined again for the winner in injury time to silence the home crowd.
Nichols weaved his way through the Reds' penalty area and squared the ball across the box where Santalab was on hand to knock in and steal the victory.
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic praised his troops following an impressive fightback after trailing 1-0 at half time.
"To do it against the champions away from home gives us real satisfaction," he said.
"The players were brave in that second half and it was great to get the win."
Adelaide United boss Guillermo Amor lamented his side's failure to double its advantage before conceding two late goals.
"In the second half at 1-0 we had the control," he said.
"This time it looked more like (it would be) 2-0 than 1-1, but it didn't arrive and they scored."