Evergrande's fans tried everything to disrupt the Wanderers in China but Western Sydney's veteran insists it backfired on Guangzhou
Western Sydney Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic says the hostility the squad were subject to from Guangzhou Evergrande fans helped galvanise the team on Wednesday.
The A-League side qualified for the AFC Champions League semi-finals in China despite losing 2-1 away to Evergrande as Tomi Juric's penalty in Guangzhou saw the tie finish at 2-2, ensuring the Wanderers advanced on the away-goals rule.
The Wanderers will face FC Seoul in the semi-finals next month.
Speaking at a packed Sydney Airport where his side were applauded by Red and Black fans, Covic recounted the harassment his team were subject to during their trip to China.
"There was a bus crash on the way to the stadium I think was staged by one of their supporters," said Covic.
"We had a car following us the whole length of the trip and it swerved at us two or three times so it was a definite eye-opener.
"I suppose they threw everything at us to unsettle us but having said that, that probably galvanised us more than anything.
"We had a reason to get really stuck in and fight for the job that we did so I think it backfired."
Evergrande fans also reportedly knocked on the doors of Wanderers' players the night before their match in Guangzhou in a bid to disrupt their sleep.
While Covic emphasised the belief in the Wanderers' dressing room as critical to getting a positive result, no doubt the turning point of the match was the 39-year-old's first-half penalty save, which he rated among the best of his career.
In the 33rd minute, Evergrande striker Elkeson won a spot-kick but failed to convert as Covic denied the Brazilian with his left forearm.
"I was confident about this one, I just had a good feeling about it," he said.
"I just had a feeling he was going to hit across his body and I left my movement to the last minute and was able to put my hand back up.
"As soon as it hit my forearm I knew I'd got a good enough hit where the ball was completely gone, there was going to be no rebound or anything.
"The timing of it as well was fantastic. It was up there with one of the most important I've produced because it gave the team a bit of a lift, a bit of a buzz, and I think it deflated them as well."