Super-sub Santalab earns Wanderers point against Victory

Besart Berisha lives for the big occasion, and so it proved once again with a first half goal, but Brendon Santalab is Western Sydney Wanderers' good luck charm and his late equaliser earned his side a 1-1 draw against Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium.

Santalab

Source: Getty Images

There really is no stopping Berisha when it comes to the big games - it was his 14th goal of the season and he is now level with Bruno Fornaroli at the top of the goal scorers chart. 

Santalab, on as a substitute as usual, rifled home a late leveller against a Victory side which flagged badly in the second half. 

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Wanderers are unbeaten in games where Santalab has made it onto the park, this a third draw to go with nine wins in his 12 appearances this season. 

It was a tasty opening and the tackles flew in with interest at a rocking Etihad Stadium. 

The Wanderers travelling fans, in Melbourne in huge numbers, let themselves down again by letting off a flare shortly after kick-off.

Referee Ben Williams stopped the game momentarily for the smoke to clear, and in the end the Wanderers' fans may have cost their side a goal. 

The ball had only been back in play 30 seconds when Kosta Barbarouses's corner evaded anyone in white, landing perfectly on the head of Berisha, who of course found the back of the net. 

Wanderers had completely switched off at the set piece - the stoppage after the flare's release could well have been to blame. 

Either way, Wanderers were roused by the concession and set about making amends.

Danny Vukovic, who had his best game for some time, made a sharp stop to keep out a Dario Vidosic header not long after Berisha's goal and it was a sign of things to come.

Santalab came off the bench in the second half and immediately forced Vukovic into a save and as Victory sat deeper and deeper, the Wanderers began banging on the door.

Santalab's goal was special - it had to be to beat Vukovic in this form.

The ball sat up beautifully for Santalab and he lasered a shot past the Victory goalkeeper.

Topor-Stanley was denied by Vukovic as Wanderers threw the kitchen sink at Victory and in the aftermath of the save, a melee saw Alberto sent off and Daniel Georgievski given a yellow card.

Jaushua Sotirio nearly won it in stoppage time, but Vukovic made a superb save to preserve a point for his side.

Melbourne Victory 1 (Berisha 16')
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Santalab 89')

Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Referee: Ben Williams


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3 min read
Published 6 February 2016 at 9:46pm
By Matthew Connellan