Wanderers to contest 2014 Asian Champions League final after

Asian Champions League final

Japanese Soccer League / November 3, 2018

Wanderers' Tomi Juric celebrates a goal v Al-Hilal in the Asian Champions League final first leg.Sorry, this audio has expired

Audio: Interview: Tony Popovic (ABC News)

The Western Sydney Wanderers are on the verge of creating Australian football history, after stunning Saudi Arabian heavyweights Al-Hilal 1-0 in Saturday night's first leg of the Asian Champions League (ACL) final.

Socceroo Tomi Juric was the hero for the Wanderers, returning from a month out with a groin injury to come on in the second half and score the match-winner from an inch-perfect Antony Golec cross in the 64th minute.

Two-time Asian champions Al-Hilal had dominated the Wanderers in the first half, but the injection of Juric early in the second period proved a master-stroke by coach Tony Popovic and the Saudis' famous 'Blue Wave' were conquered.

Twenty-three-year-old five-game international Juric showed his class to guide the Golec ball past the Al-Hilal keeper, sparking bedlam among the capacity crowd of 20, 053.

A few minutes later, Juric almost put the icing on the cake, when a superb strike from outside the box cannoned into the post.

The Wanderers' A-League season has begun in disastrous fashion with two straight losses.

But, the country's newest club is 90 minutes away from becoming the first Australian side to win an ACL title after a resurgent performance.

The Wanderers travel to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in preparation for the second leg, which kicks off at King Fahd Stadium early next Sunday morning (AEDT).

Wanderers celebrate goal against Al-HilalVictory or a draw will be enough for the Wanderers to claim the trophy against a multi-million dollar team recognised by FIFA as the best in Asia.

The Wanderers' defence was holding on for dear life in the opening 45 minutes, with Al-Hilal looking a class above and dominating possession.

Some gutsy last-ditch efforts from Daniel Mullen kept the Wanderers' sheet clean and increasingly frustrated the Saudis, who could not find a breakthrough.

The Wanderers' win was all about determination.

Brendan Santalab battled on despite a hamstring injury suffered last week and a nasty shoulder problem he picked up on Saturday, before being replaced by Juric - a man also short on conditioning.

Then, late in the half, another Socceroo Matthew Spiranovic - who has not played since the World Cup with an ankle problem - came on and did not let his coach down.

There were some near misses for the Wanderers, including the 88th minute when keeper Ante Covic was forced to throw himself on an Al-Hilal long ball and deny flying Brazilian striker Neves Thiago - and then again, when regular time had expired, and Covic was forced to stop an on-target shot from Salem Mohammed.

Tensions boiled over at times with Santalab receiving a yellow for a cynical challenge on the man who hurt his shoulder, Doru Mihai Pintilii.

Source: www.abc.net.au