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Wanderers' ALM finals hang by thread after loss to City

3 minute read

Western Sydney could miss out on an A-League Men finals appearance after suffering a disappointing 2-1 home loss to Melbourne City.

An A-League Men finals appearance is slipping through Western Sydney's fingers after they suffered a 2-1 loss to Melbourne City.

Heading into their last home game of the regular season, the sixth-placed Wanderers had to win at CommBank Stadium on Saturday to guarantee a spot in the finals.

Instead, after conceding two early goals by Leo Natel and Marin Jakolis, they were handed a disappointing defeat.

A win against competition heavyweights Melbourne Victory in the final home-and-away round will not be enough for Marko Rudan's men to scrape into finals - they will have to hope for other results to go their way.

Young winger Marcus Younis was almost the hero in their wet-weather skirmish, breathing new life into the Wanderers with a header in the 69th minute, before his bid for an equaliser was denied by the crossbar 20 minutes later.

The 18-year-old will at least relish his maiden goal after Rudan singled him out for criticism for his defensive positioning in the lead-up to a late Sydney winner in their 2-1 derby loss last weekend.

"That's character. That's what you want from these young kids," Rudan said after the City match.

"I didn't blame him at all for what happened last week. It was just if he could have done something a bit better."

Milos Ninkovic was brought on in the 74th minute, but despite plenty of effort the A-League legend could not find the back of the net.

The Serb has probably played his last career home game after announcing in January that he would hang up his boots at the end of the Wanderers' season.

Aurelio Vidmar's men usurp Western Sydney's sixth spot with a buffer of two points after breaking through for their first victory after seven matches outside of Victoria.

Meanwhile, Western Sydney are now winless in their past six home matches.

"We've sensed that over the last couple of months there's just a different vibe. You can see it in their eyes. You can see it in their body language," Vidmar said.

"Three months ago, this game would have been a lot more difficult for us."

After notching a brace in their record 8-0 monstering of Perth last round, Natel again stung the opposition with a 29th-minute screamer.

Wanderers goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas stood no chance at denying the Brazilian's almighty shot from the top of the box.

Thomas's day was then made worse when Jakolis doubled the lead in the 39th minute.

Jakolis, goalless across 17 games before Saturday afternoon, was looking for redemption after his inaccuracy at 14 minutes cost him the match-opener.

After intercepting a poor pass by Wanderers captain Marcelo just outside the box, Jakolis released to Tolgay Arslan before finding the ball again in front of goal.

The Croatian, from point-blank range, sent the ball left of the post.

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