7-0! Rudan’s unprecedented HT act & ridiculous halfway goal say it all as Wanderers fall apart

HIGHLIGHTS: The Wanderers suffered their worst ever Isuzu UTE A-League defeat on Tuesday night, going down 7-0 to Melbourne City.

The Western Sydney Wanderers have fallen out of the Isuzu UTE A-League top six for the first time this season after being demolished 7-0 by Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Tuesday night.

Without suspended captain Marcelo, the Wanderers were torn apart by a well-oiled City side on a night where absolutely nothing went right for Marko Rudan’s men.

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Goals from Tolgay Arslan (2), Leo Natel, Max Caputo, Nuno Reis, Jamie Maclaren and one of the all-time great goals from Terry Antonis – who a ludicrous volley from half-way that has to be seen to be believed – sealed the worst defeat in the club’s history.

After a first 30 minutes where both sides missed good chances, it was Tolgay Arslan who broke the deadlock, tapping home a beautiful cross from Steven Ugarkovic. It would be a strike that opened the floodgates and began a period where the visitors were humbled.

Arslan had a second just 13 seconds after the Wanderers got the match back underway. Then, winger Leo Natel got in on the act, assisted by 18-year-old Max Caputo, who himself got on the scoresheet soon after to make it 4-0 at the break.

The teen striker, who enjoyed back-to-back starts in the Isuzu UTE A-League for the first time in his young career, is keeping City skipper Jamie Maclaren out of the starting XI.

At that point, the Wanderers had conceded seven goals in their last 70 minutes of league football, if you consider the end to their Friday night clash with last-placed Western United, who scored three times in 13 minutes in what was a Daniel Penha masterclass.

Rudan responded in unprecedented fashion.

The Wanderers boss completely gutted his starting XI, making an extraordinary five substitutions at the break. Off went Nicolas Milanovic, Lachlan Brook, Dylan Sciculuna, Thomas Beadling and Aidan Simmons for Gabriel Cleur, Dylan Pierias, Milos Ninkovic, Jack Clisby and 17-year-old debutant Nathan Barrie.

With all their subs made, the visitors would finish the match with a centre-back pairing of 21-year-old Alex Bonetig and the teenage Barrie.

City took their foot off the pedal to a degree in the second half, but did net a fifth in the 72nd minute as defender Nuno Reis nodded home from a corner to bring up his first career goal in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

Then, Maclaren came off the bench and scored his first goal in 10 league matches, before the true highlight of the evening was provided by Antonis with a moment of magic.

The former Wanderer tried his luck on the volley from halfway and beat Lawrence Thomas to score what will go down as one of the greatest goals in A-Leagues history.

After such a promising start to the season, Rudan’s men have imploded in recent weeks.

In the opening 14 rounds of the season, they conceded just 14 goals. In the seven rounds since, they have conceded another 21 times, including five here, four to Macarthur, four to Sydney FC and three to both Newcastle Jets and Western United.

As a result, they (28 points) have been leapfrogged by City (29 points), who appear to have rediscovered their form after a rough patch under Aurelio Vidmar.

The Melbourne outfit have now won back-to-back games, including an impressive victory over title contenders Wellington Phoenix last week, even without key contributions from Socceroos trio Mathew Leckie (injured), Marco Tilio (injured) and Maclaren.

With just six matches left in the regular season, the Wanderers now face a colossal task to turn their form around and seize a spot in the finals.

Wanderers final six games: Perth Glory (A), Macarthur (A), Brisbane Roar (H), Sydney FC (A), Melbourne City (H), Melbourne Victory (A)

City final six games: Newcastle Jets (H), Central Coast Mariners (A), Melbourne Victory (A), Perth Glory (H), Western Sydney Wanderers (A), Western United (H)