Western Sydney have continued their astonishing run in the Asian Champions League, booking their place in the decider of their maiden campaign with a 2-0 victory over FC Seoul at Parramatta Stadium on Wednesday.
The achievement marks yet another piece of history in the Wanderers’ short existence as they join Adelaide United as the only two Australian teams to reach the ACL showpiece.
Having knocked out the ACL champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the quarters, the Wanderers have now also sent last year’s runners up FC Seoul packing in the second leg of their semi-final clash to set up a final showdown with Saudi Arabian team Al Hilal.
The Wanderers’ victory, courtesy of a goal in each half from Mateo Poljak and Shannon Cole, also breaks one of the longest streaks in Asian football with a Korean side having featured in the last five ACL finals.
Having held Seoul to a scoreless draw in the first leg earlier this month the Wanderers needed nothing less than a win on Wednesday to progress.
They came out with a clear attacking intent and had the best possible start in front of a near capacity crowd just shy of 19,000.
Poljak scored in the fourth minute when a clearance from FC Seoul keeper Sanghun Yu fell right at his feet, the midfielder’s long-range strike putting the Wanderers in front.
Striker Brendon Santalab, back from suspension, looked like doubling the advantage moments later when he found himself in a one-on-one with the keeper but shot wide.
After playing his key attacking weapons, Colombian Mauricio Molina and Brazilian Everton Santos, off the bench in the first leg, FC Seoul coach Choi Yong-Soo started the duo on Wednesday night.
Molina tested the defence late in the opening half with centre-back Brendan Hamill clearing one of his shots off the line.
With a dangerous away goal looming the Wanderers switched to defensive mode in the second half, sitting deep in their opponent’s half.
The Wanderers finally got the buffer they were desperately searching for in the 64th minute when Labinot Haliti tore down the left wing to whip a superb cross into the box with Cole, who was also back from suspension, heading home for the 2-0 lead.
Despite being 2-0 up, the Wanderers still had no room for error as the visitors continued to threaten.
Kim Ju-Young looked like getting one back for Seoul but sent his header over the cross bar.
The Wanderers defence held strong until the final whistle with goalkeeper Ante Covic barely troubled.
Western Sydney will host the first leg of the final against Al Hilal on October 25 before the return leg in Saudi Arabia on November 1.