Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 Melbourne Victory: Bridge extends Wanderers' winning run
Just as the match seemed destined for a draw, Bridge popped up to hand Wanderers all three points and condemn the Melbourne side to back-to-back defeats
By Steve Orme at Parramatta Stadium
Western Sydney have extended their winning streak to four matches with a 1-0 triumph over Melbourne Victory in wet and windy conditions at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday night.
With the Socceroos squad watching on from the stands, the hosts were on the back foot for much of the first half but created more chances in the second stanza and finally found the target through Mark Bridge in the 82nd minute.
Labinot Haliti cleverly slipped around his opposite man and fired a lethal pass across the face of goal to an unmarked Bridge who slotted the ball home from the far post to spark wild celebrations in Parramatta.
There were some nervous moments for the 15,854 fans who braved the rain as the Victory desperately searched for the equaliser but it wasn't to be for Kevin Muscat's men who slumped to their second straight defeat.
The win lifts the Wanderers temporarily to the top of the A-League ladder one point clear of Brisbane who play Newcastle on Sunday.
With a strong breeze at their backs the Victory had the better of the opening exchanges despite missing Mark Milligan and Kosta Barbarouses on national duties.
James Troisi fired the first shot in anger but was unable to control the slippery ball after a heavy downpour just before kick-off.
Wanderers defender Jerome Polenz was handed his fourth yellow card of the season for a clumsy challenge on Troisi in the 11th minute.
The Victory should have taken the lead two minutes later but Archie Thompson inexplicably missed the target from point-blank range after a dangerous cross from Connor Pain.
Pain forced a save from Ante Covic moments later as the Victory continued to totally dominate the hosts.
The Wanderers made a rare raid into Victory territory but Shannon Cole's 35m shot sailed well wide.
Thompson continued to give the Wanderers' back-four nightmares, forcing a sharp save from Covic after a clever give-and-go with Mitch Nichols.
Covic was called into action again on the half hour, intercepting a dangerous cross from Leigh Broxham as two Victory players lay in wait inside the penalty box.
Momentum shifted briefly towards the Wanderers as the home side started to win their share of possession in midfield.
Polenz created the hosts' best chance of the first half with a curling cross, but Brendon Santalab couldn't connect with his header as Victory keeper Nathan Coe arrived just in time.
Thompson fired another shot just wide from the edge of the box late in the half before Bridge forced a desperate save from Coe to send the sides into the sheds locked at 0-0.
It was a tense start to the second stanza as both sides looked to control possession.
Santalab found space after a clever through-ball from Polenz but the striker was unable to control the ball well enough to get his shot away.
The Wanderers stayed on the attack, Cole firing a free-kick just over the crossbar after a clumsy challenge from Pablo Contreras on the edge of the penalty box.
Genuine chances were few and far between for both sides, Bridge sending a shot wide in the 81st minute but he made no mistake a minute later to set up the win.
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Western Sydney Wanderers
Adam Leonard D'Apuzzo
Iacopo La Rocca
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