The Western Sydney Wanderers have booked a spot in next Sunday’s A-League Grand Final after winning arguably the greatest game of football in the competition’s 11-season history.
A rampant home crowd in Parramatta was treated to a classic as WSW beat Brisbane Roar 5-4 in extra time, despite having been down 3-0 after 23 minutes.
The Roar’s early onslaught came courtesy of goals from Dimitri Petratos (penalty 16′), an own goal by Andreu (20′) and a deflected strike by Jamie Maclaren (23′).
However by the 59th minute WSW had sensationally torn the lead away from the Roar, thanks to a Romeo Castelen hat-trick (26′, 53′, 59′) plus one goal from Brenton Santalab (39′).
Maclaren scored his second goal to level for the Roar in the 81st minute, but former Brisbane player Dario Vidosic sent Parramatta Stadium into delirium with the eventual winner in the 102nd minute.
Watch every goal below:
It was the first time ever a team had won after being 3-0 down since Australia’s various national football competitions began in 1977, according to Australian football statistician Andrew Howe.
The triumph gave WSW their third Grand Final birth in only four seasons as a club. However Tony Popovic’s side is yet to take home an A-League Grand Final win.
In 2013 WSW lost 2-0 to the Central Coast Mariners while in the 2014 Grand Final the Roar beat them 2-1.
“It’s an amazing feeling, the boys showed amazing character,” Castelen told ABC’s Grandstand.
“To be on the pitch three-nil down and come back like this is amazing. It’s a great story but we’re not there yet.”
Fellow Wanderer Scott Neville said coach Tony Popovic had instructed his troops at half-time to maintain their attacking and defensive structure in the second term and the win would come.
“Stick to what we’ve being doing all year and we knew we would come back,” he said.
“It was a sloppy start, three random goals if you ask me but that can happen in football and just shows the credit and ability in our team to come back and win 5-4 and we really could have score more.”
WSW will play Adelaide United at the Adelaide Oval next Sunday, a team with a similar record of Grand Final heartbreak.
The Reds lost the 2007 Grand Final 6-0 to Melbourne Victory and lost the 2009 decider 1-0 to the same club.
But after winning the A-League minor Premiership this season, and seeing WSW play 120 minutes of taxing football against the Roar, Adelaide should be favourite to break their duck next Sunday.
The match was a fitting farewell for Parramatta Stadium, which WSW will vacate next season while it is upgraded.
Thousands of WSW fans are expected to flock across to the Adelaide Oval next week, which will hopefully create a capacity crowd for the domestic competition’s biggest game of the season.