So often it’s been the opposite this season but the Wanderers managed to bag all 3 points in Seoul on Wednesday night, despite an otherwise unconvincing performance, to keep their ACL hopes alive. The Wanderers had only 31% of possession but managed to see out FC Seoul for a crucial 2-3 away win.
The game began in familiar terms with the Wanderers turning over the ball at ease and Seoul looking a class above. However, the match took an unexpected sharp turn when the Wanderers jumped on a loose ball and launched a counter attack, Terry Antonis playing in Lachlan Scott who tucked away the first goal of the game thanks to a deflection from keeper and post. From there, FC Seoul looked shaken and panicked and knew that they would need to press forward to win this must win game.
The Wanderers continued to threaten on the counter and could have extended the lead a couple of times if not for over hit passes into the box. Luckily, the 2nd goal came in the 40th minute when Terry Antonis stepped up and outsmarted the keeper from the spot. The penalty for handball itself was questionable but the Wanderers would take all the luck they could get at this stage of the campaign.
The second half looked much like the first, with Seoul looking the better outfit and Wanderers looking dangerous on the counter but just lacking the final ball. Then out of nowhere FC Seoul gave away possession too easily and Josh Sotirio found himself in space and in on goal. Sotirio summed up the situation perfectly and chipped the keeper who was off his line and left to helplessly watch the ball gently bounce into the back of the net. At 3-0 the Wanderers’ fans could finally breathe a sigh of relief and accept that ‘we might actually win this one’.
But the comfortable win that looked to be coming was not to be. The Wanderers got complacent and FC Seoul sparked to life with the realisation that they were about to guarantee that they would not leave the group stage, at home. Il-Lok Yun bagged a brace in 6 minutes with 2 great goals and it was game on.
From there, the Wanderers looked nervous and Seoul looked ready to score at any moment. Raid after raid continued until the final whistle; the battered Wanderers emerging 3 to 2 goal victors. In the end, it was an unconvincing performance but, thanks to some clinical finishing, the desired result.
It was a similar result in Shanghai, with Shanghai SIPG taking a 3 goal lead before being pegged back to hold onto a 3-2 win against Urawa Red Diamonds. The results give the Wanderers a real chance of making it out of the group so long as they perform in the remaining 3 games.