A dream debut from Scott McDonald secured bragging rights for the Western Sydney Wanderers in another Sydney derby for the ages at Bankwest Stadium.
The home side broke their six-game winless streak with a dramatic 3-2 win over Sydney FC, a result that also means the Sky Blues still haven’t beaten the Wanderers since 2018.
First half goals from Bruce Kamau and Mitch Duke gave the home side a cushion, before the Sky Blues fought back with a goal from Alex Wilkinson minutes after the break.
And just when the visitors were beginning to look like they might grab an equaliser, McDonald came off the bench to score a header with his very first touch 15 minutes from time and only days after he joined the Wanderers.
There was late drama when referee Shaun Evans awarded Sydney a penalty after Trent Buhagiar was barged over by Graham Dorrans. Despite the VAR calling for a review, Evans stuck with his decision, which in the end mattered little because Bobo inexplicably skied his shot from the spot.
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But the Brazilian did get his goal – becoming the fastest to 50 A-League goals in the process – to set up the nerviest of finishes, made even more so when Anthony Caceres hit the post.
But it eventually ended in the Wanderers favour, a huge result that sees them move within touching distance of a top six finish.
Sydney’s strong start to the match counted for nothing when they suddenly found themselves trailing by two goals.
An almighty strike from Kamau in the 12th minute gave the home side a lead from nowhere after they had started the match the poorer of the two. Ziggy Gordon cut the ball back into the box after a powering run down the right and Kamau met it with a strike that thundered off the inside of the post and into the net.
The goal was the lift the Wanderers needed, and then some, because just four minutes later Duke doubled their lead.
Kamau was involved again with a breaking run down the left, but it was a clinical finish from Duke in his 50th match for the Wanderers and it left Sydney shell-shocked.
Just minutes before the home side took the lead it was Sydney who should have, when Alex Baumjohann’s cross somehow eluded Bobo right in front of goal.
Sydney did well to steady themselves thereafter as tensions escalated and they should have pulled a goal back before the break when Milos Ninkovic set up Bobo.
An absolutely action-packed first half ended 2-0, but just two minutes after the break Alex Wilkinson rose to meet Baumjohann’s corner and nodded the ball home to put Sydney on the scoresheet.
Sydney began the second half much like they did the first – dominant. Wanderers coach Carl Robinson responded with a triple substitution, including the introduction of Scott McDonald just days after the former Brisbane Roar striker joined the club. It proved an inspired move as the Wanderers hung on for a famous win.
RETURN TO BANKWEST
Sydney began the match as if they were the home side, which they might have been excused for. It was the first time they had returned to Bankwest Stadium since they won the Grand Final on enemy territory last season. Sky Blue fans even held up a cheeky ‘welcome home’ banner before kick off.
The vocal support of the RBB at one end and the Cove at the other is what sets the A-League apart. Bankwest Stadium wasn’t at capacity for the Sydney derby, but the atmosphere remains second to none. It’s just a wonder how the Wanderers haven’t turned to the stadium into the fortress it deserves to be for them.