A hat-trick from Mark Bridge has helped Western Sydney Wanderers tear Adelaide apart in a 6-1 thrashing on Friday at Parramatta Stadium
|By JOHN GRECO
Western Sydney Wanderers have given their fans an early Christmas present and stamped themselves as genuine A-League title contenders, by crushing a hapless Adelaide United 6-1 at Parramatta Stadium on Friday.
Known for their trouble in front of goal in the opening three months of the season, the Wanderers answered their critics with a clinical performance to run riot in front just over 9000 fans.
On his return to the side after two weeks out with a hamstring injury, Mark Bridge scored a brilliant hat-trick inside the hour mark on what was a landmark occasion for the new club.
Former Japanese international Shinji Ono, embattled striker Dino Kresinger and substitute Joey Gibbs were also on the scoresheet, with Dario Vidosic's goal a mere consolation for the visitors.
It was a night of milestones for the Wanderers - the result was the club's biggest ever win, it was the first time they have won three matches in a row and the only time they have scored more than twice in a match.
While Bridge will get most of the plaudits for his goals, midfielder Mateo Poljak had his best game for the club in central midfield while winger Youssouf Hersi had three assists.
There was nothing for Adelaide coach John Kosmina to be happy about as his side fell to one of the heaviest defeats in their history.
Only last season's 7-1 thrashing against Brisbane and the 6-0 grand final defeat to Melbourne Victory in season two were worse than Friday's demolition.
It was Adelaide who enjoyed a lot of the early possession but the home side still the created the best chances in the first 15 minutes.
Recalled striker Kresinger, Ono and Hersi all found themselves with good sights of goal but on each occasion wasted their opportunity.
But Bridge showed them how it was done by opening the scoring on 18 minutes.
After Jerome Polenz and Ono combined down the right, the ball found its way to Hersi just outside the box.
The Dutch winger then produced a clever flick with the outside of his right boot over the top of the Reds' defence, with Bridge sneaking in front of Iain Fyfe before smashing it home from close range.
The Reds had no answer to the Wanderers' movement and passing and the home side cashed in on their dominance with two goals in the space of a minute right on the stroke of half-time.
First Bridge grabbed his second when, after a pinpoint through ball from Mateo Poljak, the former Sydney FC man twisted and turned past Fyfe and hit a sweet left-foot shot into the far bottom corner of the net.
Before the home fans had time to stop celebrating, Kresinger added a third and his first goal in the A-League.
The Reds' defence failed to deal with a seemingly harmless long ball, with the giant Croatian using his strength to play neat a one-two with Ono before planting his header past Eugene Galekovic.
Kosmina made personnel and positional changes at the break but it didn't stop the home side from adding a fourth within seven minutes of the restart.
A misplaced goal-kick from Galekovic went straight to Hersi, whose header fell perfectly into the path of Ono who finished clinically from just inside the box.
Bridge added a fifth to complete his hat-trick soon after, and even though Vidosic grabbed a goal for the visitors nothing was going to dampen the mood in a game the Wanderers fans won't forget for a long time.