Oscar Priestman
Oscar Priestman has scored the match-winner as the Wanderers kept their A-League finals hopes alive. Image by Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS
  • soccer

Wanderers beat Victory to keep ALM season alive

Anna Harrington April 27, 2024

Coach Marko Rudan insists Western Sydney always had the fight needed to keep their slim A-League Men finals hopes alive after pulling off an extraordinary 4-3 comeback win over Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.

The Wanderers had to win on Saturday night, and require Western United to beat or draw with Melbourne City on Sunday evening, in order to qualify for the top six.

Goals to Zinedine Machach and Daniel Arzani inside the opening 15 minutes almost killed that dream immediately.

 Victory’s Daniel Arzani scored twice in their 4-3 defeat. Image by Will Murray/AAP PHOTOS 

But Lachlan Brook and Nicolas Milanovic struck in the 20th and 35th minutes respectively to restore parity, before Arzani and Aydan Hammond traded goals in the 55th and 73rd minutes.

Oscar Priestman was the late hero, scoring in the 87th minute to send the Wanderers into ecstasy.

“It’s always been there. If I look over the last three games, in particular, I don’t think we deserve to lose those games,” Rudan  said. 

“I thought we deserved to get something. So it’s always been there.

“It’s great for them to get a result in the end because that character, that belief and the spirit was there. The fight, it’s been there. 

“But tonight we got the result.”

Third-placed Victory will play either the Wanderers (37 points), City (36) or Sydney (38), who play Perth, depending on how Sunday’s results play out.

The Wanderers have won one more game than City, meaning Aurelio Vidmar’s charges must beat United to qualify.

Victory struck in the fourth minute when Milanovic’s attempted backpass instead released Victory striker Bruno Fornaroli.

The striker cut the ball back for Machach, who hit a wonderful first-time left-footed strike past Lawrence Thomas.

All the Victory players rushed to the bench to celebrate with Leigh Broxham, who is retiring at season’s end.

Eleven minutes later, Adama Traore found Arzani, who struck a wonderful first-time hit past Thomas.

Western Sydney scored when Gabriel Cleur burst forward and squared the ball for Brook, who took a touch with his right foot then scored a sweet volley with his left.

Then, Marcelo sent the ball out to Dylan Scicluna on the right and the full back found Dylan Pierias, who squared the ball for Milanovic to tap home.

Victory reclaimed the lead when Arzani, with the help of a deflection, buried his second goal.

Broxham entered the field for his record 385th ALM appearance to a standing ovation in the 72nd minute.

But barely a minute later, Hammond scrambled home.

Priestman fired home the winner from the edge of the box, before Thomas denied Fornaroli in the 94th minute.

Fornaroli (18 goals) also fell short of the golden boot to Perth’s Adam Taggart (19).

“We lost the game and the way we defended, you could say we deserved to lose, the way we attacked you could say we deserved to win,” Victory coach Tony Popovic  said.

“But you score three goals at home, you expect to win the match. So, some fine tuning we have to do before next week.”