Western Sydney have rocketed into the knockout phase of their maiden Asian Champions League campaign, dismantling Guizhou Renhe 5-0 to reach yet another impressive milestone in the club’s short history.
Top of their group with four wins from six games, the Wanderers needed only a point to get through but goals from Shannon Cole, Labinot Haliti, Shinji Ono and Nikolai Topor-Stanley, and a penalty by Aaron Mooy ensured they progressed in emphatic style.
With bottom-placed Guizhou already eliminated, it was a vastly changed starting line-up from the side which hosted the Wanderers in their first leg last month, with nine players who started that clash in China missing from the Parramatta Stadium encounter on Tuesday.
Bosnian international Zvjezdan Misimovic and star skipper Sun Jihai were both ruled out through suspension and coach Yang Chen strangely fielded what was essentially a B-grade side with only a three-man bench, and it showed.
The Chinese Super League outfit registered just two shots on target the entire game with Wanderers keeper Ante Covic otherwise untroubled in what was a dour affair that sparked to life in the latter stages.
The Wanderers dominated in all aspects of the match and it didn’t take long for then to break through, with Cole getting past the Guizhou defence, courtesy of great lead-up work from Anthony Golec, to put the hosts in front after just six minutes.
Haliti continued to threaten after the break while Juric looked like doubling the Wanderers advantage in the 73rd minute, with keeper Peng doing well to save his powerful header.
It was Haliti who broke though, however, capitalising on a defensive lapse by Guizhou to give the Wanderers a 2-0 lead in the 75th minute.
Things went from bad to worse for the Chinese side with Guo Sheng conceding a penalty for a foul in the area.
Mooy stepped up to the mark and made no mistake, the Wanderers going 3-0 up in the 81st minute.
Late substitute Ono continued the rout with a superb long-range strike just four minutes later.
Defender Topor-Stanley made it 5-0 in the 88th minute getting on the end of a Cole ball into the box to head home.