25 October 2014 12:56
Tomi Juric netted the winner as Western Sydney Wanderers defeated Al Hilal 1-0 in the AFC Champions League final first leg on Saturday.
In front of more than 20,000 fans at Parramatta Stadium, the Australia international came off the bench to score one of the most important goals of his career in the 64th minute.
It was Juric’s first club appearance since the quarter-final second leg against Guangzhou Evergande, and he almost doubled the lead soon after when his left-footed strike beat goalkeeper Abdullah Al Sudairy but cannoned into the post.
The visitors piled on the pressure in the last 15 minutes but some wayward finishing and a couple of brilliant saves from Ante Covic allowed Wanderers to hold on and take a slender advantage to Riyadh in a week’s time.
After a goalless first period, Wanderers coach Tony Popovic introduced Juric off the bench in the 58th minute as a replacement for Brendon Santalab, and he wasted little time in making an impact.
Anthony Golec got some rare freedom down the left and swung in an inch-perfect cross, with Juric sliding in to side-foot under Al Sudairy from close range.
Despite enjoying more of the possession in the closing stages, the visitors were unable to find an equaliser as Wanderers held on to secure the advantage heading into next Saturday’s return leg.