The Western Sydney Wanderers exacted some revenge for last season’s grand final loss, downing Adelaide United 2-1 at Coopers Stadium on Friday night.
Brendon Santalab lived up to his super-sub tag, scoring a brace as the Wanderers overcame a 1-0 deficit at the break.
“It’s the first time we’ve won in round two as a club, to do it against the champions away from home, it gives us a real satisfaction,” Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said.
“The players were very brave in that second half and it was great to get the win.”
Having only won one of the last nine meetings against Adelaide and lost the last five in Adelaide, the Wanderers were eager to turn around their fortunes.
A heavy tackle from Jack Clisby saw the Wanderers back given a yellow card within the first minute to set the tone of the game.
The Wanderers were on top in the early exchanges but Adelaide found their feet, scoring minutes from half-time through import star Henrique.
Popovic said he thought his side had a strong first 45 minutes.
“We certainly didn’t deserve to be one-nil down at half-time but you’ve got to accept as it is and we were down,” he said.
“To respond the way we did after last week and all the changes we made today, to win it at the death, it was very pleasing.”
When Santalab came into the game at the 60 minute mark, the veteran had an immediate effect, putting the finishing touch on a counter-attacking raid from Clisby and Mitch Nicholls.
Santalab was in the thick of the action and was lucky to stay on the pitch after a strong challenge on James Holland six minutes from time, before slotting the game-winner when a cross from Nichols found him unmarked a minute into injury time.
The Wanderers next take on the Newcastle Jets at Spotless Stadium on Sunday night with kickoff at 7pm.