March 05, 2015 09:24:38 UK
A hat-trick from Brazilian striker Ricardo Goulart saw Western Sydney Wanderers suffer a 3-2 home defeat to Guangzhou Evergrande in the Asian Champions League.
The clash between the 2013 tournament winners and the defending champions was all set up to be a classic, especially after both teams won their opening group games last week.
And the match did not disappoint as the Pirtek Stadium crowd thrilled to the quality of play and the clinical finishing of Goulart.
Guangzhou arrived in Sydney as the last team to score against Wanderers in the ACL – back in the quarter-finals of last year’s tournament when they were beaten on the away goals rule.
Looking for revenge for that defeat, they took the lead after 19 minutes when Goulart struck a powerful shot from the edge of the box that took a slight touch off Nikolai Topor-Stanley on its way into the net.
Western Sydney, who are 11.00 to finish in the A-League top six, levelled 12 minutes after the break, Iacopo La Rocca’s glancing header from a corner going in off the inside of the far post.
But the visitors hit back just a minute later when a near-post cross was met by Goulart’s firm finish.
The Brazilian earned the match ball when he scored his third in the 64th minute, netting from close range after poor defending from Tony Popovic’s side.
Matthew Spiranovic headed home from a free-kick but saw the goal disallowed for offside, with Evergrande keeper Zeng Cheng badly hurt in defending the set-piece. He collided with a defender and suffered a suspected broken cheekbone as well as a concussion.
The lengthy treatment on the pitch for the keeper meant there were 17 minutes of injury time, with Wanderers pulling a goal back in the 93rd minute.
Romeo Castelen headed home a cross from Nikita Rukavytsya, but though substitute Kerem Bulut then had a chance to snatch a draw he shot straight at substitute keeper Li Shuai.
Western Sydney are 4.20 to win their A-League clash with Brisbane Roar on Sunday, with the Roar 1.85 and the draw 3.50.
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