Santalab hat-trick breathes life in Wanderers season

Western Sydney Wanderers have secured their first back to back wins of the A-League season with an entertaining 3-1 win over Melbourne City.

With both teams confident after comprehensive wins last week, it was an explosive start as Melbourne City opened the scoring after just three minutes through a deflected Neil Kilkenny strike after great build-up play by Nick Fitzgerald.

Just minutes later, the Wanderers had the chance to issue an immediate response through Mitch Nichols after he was fed through on goal but the midfielder, without an A-League goal this season, wasn’t able to get his shot past Thomas Sorenson.

On 22 minutes Western Sydney had another chance to draw level and this time Brendon Santalab made no mistake. After City lost possession in their own half, an ever lively Nicolas Martinez found Santalab in the box with the striker able to drill it past a helpless Sorenson.

In an end to end contest, the red and black had the next real chance with Nichols drifting his shot wide on the half hour after a great ball into the box by Jack Clisby.

Despite showing glimpses of quality, City were struggling to carve out any clear chances after their early opener with the Wanderers looking a lot more dangerous in the final third.

With half-time approaching, Martinez was found in the box by Nichols and only narrowly pulled his low shot wide of goal.

It was much the same after the break with City struggling to penetrate while Western Sydney threatened with Nichols getting two shots away either side of the 55th minute that were easily saved by Sorenson.

One man whose shots weren’t so easily saved was Santalab and he headed the Wanderers ahead on 64 minutes. The 34-year-old striker netting his thirteenth goal of the season after some brilliant passing ended with a pin-point Scott Neville cross into the box which Santalab powered into the net.

Just four minutes later the striker would complete his first hat-trick in Wanderers colours as he headed home following a deflected Clisby cross to put his side 3-1 ahead.

Looking dead and buried, City were handed a lifeline in the 74th minute with Fitzgerald drawing a foul in the box from Kearyn Baccus only for Bruno Fornaroli to have his tame penalty saved by Janjetovic.

The Victorians kept plugging away in the final minutes but to no avail as Western Sydney walked away deserved 3-1 winners to all but confirm their spot in the finals.

Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Santalab 22’, 64’, 68’)
Melbourne City 1 (Kilkenny 3’)

Spotless Stadium (10,204)
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Assistant Referees: Scott Edeling and Lance Greenshields
Fourth Official: Stephen Lucas 

Western Sydney Wanderers: 20.JANJETOVIC Vedran, 3. CLISBY Jack, 6. NICHOLS Mitch, 10. MARTINEZ Nicolas (16. SOTIRIO Jaushua 81’) 11. SANTALAB Brendon (23. SCOTT Lachlan 86’), 12. NEVILLE Scott, 14. KUSUKAMI Jumpei, 15. BACCUS Kearyn (5. HAMILL Brendan 78’), 18. CORNTHWAITE Robert, 22. ASPROPOTAMITIS Jonthan, 24. ANTONIS Terry
Substitutes: 1.TYSON Jerrad, 2. COLE Shannon, 5. HAMILL Brendan, 16. SOTIRIO Jaushua, 23. SCOTT Lachlan

Melbourne City: 1.SORENSON Thomas, 3. ROSE Joshua, 5. FRANJIC Ivan, 6. MALIK Osama, 8. KILKENNY Neil (14. ARZANI Daniel 81’), 10. CACERES Anthony, 11. KAMAU Bruce (9. COLAZO Nicolas 70’), 12. FITZGERALD Nick, 21. TONGYIK Ruon, 23. FORNAROLI Bruno, 26. BRATTAN Luke
Substitutes: 20. BOUZANIS Dean, 2. MUSCAT Emmanuel, 9. COLAZO Nicolas, 14. ARZANI Daniel, 18. RETRE Paulo

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A football fanatic and journalism student who won't leave you wondering about any Wanderers news this season as I cover all things Red and Black for The Football Sack.