Ex-Palace defender Popovic leads Western Sydney to historic Asian victory

A-League club Western Sydney Wanderers claimed their first-ever win in the AFC Asian Champions League on Wednesday night.

A-League club Western Sydney Wanderers claimed their first-ever win in the AFC Asian Champions League on Wednesday night.

The Wanderers, in just their second Asian fixture, edged Chinese Super League side Guizhou Renhe 1-0 in Group H courtesy of a tenth-minute goal from Mark Bridge.

It was an historic moment for Western Sydney, who are in just their second season of operation, and the monumental achievement was certainly not lost on head coach and Tony Popovic.

“People know that we are a team with a relatively short history and today we won our very first AFC Champions League match and I am very proud. Our players showed a great fighting spirit and I am very satisfied with that,” the former Crystal Palace and Sanfrecce Hiroshima centre-back.

“Yesterday I said that we were very confident, and today we proved why we were confident as we had such strong desire to win.”

Western Sydney’s A-League rivals Melbourne Victory were also in action in Matchday 2 but failed to capitalise against South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai in Group G after taking an early lead through Nick Ansell.

Taeguk Warriors veteran Lee Dong-gook then scored a quick-fire double with just over ten minutes remaining before the Victory savoured a point thanks to Kosta Barbarouses’ 81st-minute effort.

Elsewhere in the ACL, Alessandro Diamanti scored but reigning champions Guangzhou Evergrande were unable to record a victory, drawing 1-1 with Yokohama F. Marinos, in Group G.

Ulsan Hyundai defeated Kawasaki Frontale 2-0 in Group H while Iran’s Sepahan came from behind to beat Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal 3-2 in Group D. In that group’s other fixture, UAE’s Al Ahli and Qatar’s Al-Sadd drew 1-1.

And in Group C, Lekhwiya and Tractor Sazi played out a 0-0 draw as Al Ittihad defeated Al Ain thanks to a brace from Mukhtar Fallatah after Asamoah Gyan opened the scoring.

 
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