Western Sydney Wanderers beat FC Seoul to reach first Asian Champions League final



We also have more stories about:
(click the phrases to see a list)

Subjects:

Places:

 


SYDNEY — Western Sydney Wanderers reached the Asian Champions League final for the first time with a 2-0 victory over FC Seoul on Wednesday, just two years after the team was founded.

The Australian team will play two-time Asian champion Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia in the two-leg final.

After a goal-less first leg in Seoul two weeks ago, Croatian-born midfielder Mateo Poljak, who was recovering from the chicken pox, put the A-League's Wanderers in front after four minutes.

Seoul pressured the Wanderers for much of the remainder of the match at Parramatta Stadium, knowing that under the away goals rule a 1-1 draw would send the 2013 runner-up into the final. But Shannon Cole headed the Wanderers further in front in the 64th minute.

They will bid to become the first Australian team to win the Asian Champions League in the two-leg final, which begins at home on Oct. 25. Al Hilal, which won the Asian Champions League in 1991 and 2000, hosts the second leg on Nov. 1 in Riyadh.

The Wanderers, who beat defending champion Guangzhou Evergrande in the quarterfinals, are the second A-League team to reach the final after Adelaide United in 2008.

The Wanderers were formed by Football Federation Australia in 2012, aided by government funding, and bought this year by a consortium headed by Sydney-based businessman Paul Lederer.

"It's hard to describe the feeling for our players, our fans," Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said. "Mateo couldn't train for much of the week. He and Shannon are a couple of the unsung heroes in our squad."

Poljak's goal came when a clearance from FC Seoul goalkeeper Yu Sang-hun fell right at the Western Sydney player's feet, and the midfielder replied with a long-range strike.

Striker Brendon Santalab, back from suspension, looked like doubling the lead moments later when he found himself in a one-on-one with Yu, but Santalab shot wide.

After playing his key attacking weapons, Colombian Mauricio Molina and Brazilian Everton Santos, off the bench in the first leg, FC Seoul coach Choi Yong-soo started the pair. Molina tested the defense late in the opening half with center back Brendan Hamill clearing one of his shots off the line.

Cole's goal came when Pristina-born Labinot Haliti swept down the left wing and sent a long cross into the box which Cole, who was also back from suspension, headed home. Cole's celebration after the goal went bad when he stumbled awkwardly while attempting a backflip.

"It was a bit stupid, forget about that," Cole said, smiling. "Let's focus on the result."

On Tuesday, Al Hilal advanced to the final despite a 2-1 away defeat by 10-man Al Ain in their semifinal second leg at Abu Dhabi. The Saudi Arabian side, 3-0 up from the first leg, went through 4-2 on aggregate at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.

A South Korean side had featured in the last five ACL finals.

All content copyright ©2014 Daily Reporter, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved. Click here to read our privacy policy.
Daily Reporter • 22 W. New Road • Greenfield, IN 46140 • (317) 462-5528