Shinji Ono gave the Western Sydney Wanderers something special to remember him by as he orchestrated the 2-0 win over Sanfrecce Hiroshima that carried the A-League club into the Asian Champions League quarter-finals.
The Japanese playmaker, who is returning home after two seasons with the Wanderers, set up both second half goals, as they got the scoreline they needed following a 3-1 first leg loss last week.
Substitute Shannon Cole lashed the ball home from near the penalty spot in the 55th minute, after Sanfrecce failed to properly clear an Ono cross.
The Japanese maestro and man of the match then supplied an 85th minute cross that was lashed home by Brendon Santalab.
The goal levelled the tie at 3-3, with the Wanderers advancing to the quarter-finals on away goals.
The Wanderers survived a couple of nervy moments near their own goal in the closing minutes, but held out to book their spot in August’s quarter- finals.
Coach Tony Popovic made five changes to the side that started last week’s game with Ono and another departing favourite, winger Youssouf Hersi, among the inclusions
Ono and Hersi did everything they could to try and and prise open the obdurate Sanfrecce defence and were responsible for most of their team’s brightest first half moments.
Ono fired just wide from outside the box, had a free kick blocked and set up Hersi, who scooped the ball over from close range.
Sanfrecce occasionally looked threatening on the counter attack, though they didn’t create many clear cut chances.
The Wanderers started the second half with urgency, with Labinot Haliti having two shots blocked and Iacopo La Rocca another, in just a handful of seconds, while an unmarked La Rocca headed over from an Ono corner.
Cole scored within three minutes of replacing Antony Golec.
Fellow substitute Tomi Juric shot just over the bar in the 76th minute and his acrobatic cross was somehow headed wide by Hersi from just a couple of metres out, as Wanderers tied the deep lying Sanfrecce back in their own half for much of the last 35 minutes. - AAP