April 04, 2015 11:00:44 UK
Nikita Rukavytsya is set to miss Western Sydney Wanderers vital Asian Champions League clash with FC Seoul after limping out of the 1-1 home draw with Melbourne City.
The winger helped create his side’s goal when he won a free-kick that Yojiro Takahagi curled in to give Wanderers the lead.
But he only lasted until the half-hour mark when he ended a powerful 60-metre run by clutching his left hamstring before being substituted.
Rukavytsya, who had been the best player on the pitch until he was forced off, will have scans on his hamstring but coach Tony Popovic accepts he will miss Tuesday’s home date with the South Korean side.
Wanderers, who are 34.00 to win the Asian Champions League, and FC Seoul are locked in a battle for the second qualifying spot in Group H, both teams having four points from their first three games.
Popovic’s preparations for that game were boosted by the return from injury of Mark Bridge and Mateo Poljak after a month out.
The duo both played against City in a game where Western Sydney deserved the three points but were left to rue missed chances.
Popovic felt his team were denied a clear penalty late on at Pirtek Stadium, when a shot appeared to strike the arm of City defender Kew Jaliens.
The Western Sydney coach claimed Jaliens’ arm was in an unnatural position, adding: “If that’s a natural position I’d like someone to explain to me how it is.
“The officials are well and truly close enough in that situation to make that decision. But he’s made it, we can’t change it but it’s just disappointing.”
Popovic felt good saves from City keeper Tando Velaphi and some last-ditch tackles from the visitors were major reasons why his team were denied victory.
He added: “The first half was fantastic to watch, the only thing that wasn’t nice to see was it was 1-1 and not a three-goal margin to us.”
Wanderers are 2.80 to win their next match against Central Coast Mariners, who are 2.30 with the draw 3.30.
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