Santalab insists 'Ninja' goal was above board

Western Sydney Wanderers striker Brendon Santalab said goal-scoring opportunities should be viewed differently by referees and that there was no way his "Ninja kick" for the late winner against Perth Glory should have been disallowed.

Santalab

Source: AAP



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Perth coach Kenny Lowe was angry after the 2-1 win by Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium on Friday night, saying Santalab's 85th-minute goal should have been disallowed by referee Strebre Delovski for a high boot. Lowe was backed up by Glory goalkeeper Ante Covic.

Replays showed Santalab's right boot grazing the top of Perth left-back Marc Warren's shoulder and left side of his head a fraction of a second after the Wanderers super-sub had made contact with the ball. The looping shot went over the top of Covic and dropped under the bar and in.



"It's above Warren's head. He's gone for a header, he's pulled back out - anywhere on the park it's a free kick all day long," Lowe said. "That probably hurts me more than anything, to lose to a goal like that.

"When someone sticks a foot six foot in the air, above the left back's head, and they get a goal from it, anywhere on the park it's a free kick all day long."

Former Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic was forced to look on helplessly as the ball went over the top of him and dropped in time to be a goal. .

"Yeah, look, 'Woz' (Warren) has copped a boot to the head, put that anywhere else on the field and it would have been a free kick, you know," Covic said. "The way 'Santa' has connected with it, there's no other way that ball can go into the net after I came out to a position.

"But if you're raising a boot and it's at the level of someone's head and you connect with the head, you know, regardless of whether it goes in or out it's dangerous play, which is disappointing.

"Like I said, if it happens anywhere else on the field you blow a free kick, but it's over and done with now, they got that second goal and we walk away with nothing, which is disappointing."

But Santalab, who has become something of a miracle worker for Wanderers with important late goals after coming off the bench as a substitute in the second half of games this season, was adamant there was nothing wrong with his strike.

In response to Perth's claim that it should have been a free kick their way, Santalab said: "Not when you're going for goal. I mean, there's a goal to be scored there, so I'll do anything for a goal and this time I had to do a Ninja kick, so.

"It went in and it wasn't a foul against us, so overall I'm delighted with the win."

Santalab argued that goal-scoring opportunities were different to normal contests for the ball.

"Yeah, definitely, I mean, you're going for goal," he said. "You know, you put your body on the line defensively when you need to defend and you put your body on the line when you need to score as well and that was the perfect example."

Santalab said he would have much less of a problem with a free kick for a high boot away from the penalty box, when it was not a goal-scoring opportunity.

"I think in the middle of the field it's a little bit different," he said. "But when you're going for a goal and there's no intention at all to hurt anyone or kick anyone, you just simply have your eye on the goal, it's different again."

Santalab said he knew that with Warren alongside him, Covic advancing and the ball in the air, the only way he could have scored was to try to get to the ball before it fell to the ground.

"It was a bit of a freaky finish because it still had to come down in time to go under the bar and into the net," he said. "But it was one I feel we deserved over the balance of the whole game.

"We've been up and down a little bit of late in terms of our performances, so tonight is a massive confidence booster for us and moving forward with six games to go we're in a great position."


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4 min read
Published 27 February 2016 at 10:53am
By Greg Prichard