Western Sydney capped off a week to forget for Adelaide United and interim coach Michael Valkanis by trouncing the Reds 4-2 on Sunday.
The Hindmarsh Stadium crowd looked in for a rough evening when the tepid affair produced only two attempts on goal for either side in the opening 20 minutes, but that all changed just prior to half-time when the Wanderers scored two in two minutes courtesy of Youssouf Hersi and Mark Bridge.
Hersi’s scintillating performance was heightened shortly after the break when he doubled his account before United striker Bruce Djite came off the bench to pull a goal back.
The Wanderers put the game to bed minutes later via Mateo Poljak’s clever finish although the hosts managed to score a second when winger Iain Ramsay popped up with his fourth goal of the season.
Sloppy play and errors riddled the encounter early before Hersi almost opened the scoring in the 22nd minute only to blaze his shot over the bar following a crafty one-two with Bridge.
The visitors had the momentum and were quick to test United captain Eugene Galekovic again when Aaron Mooy forced the gloveman to parry away his thundering 30-yard free-kick.
The Wanderers’ pressure was relentless and they were unlucky not to take the lead on 27 minutes when Shinji Ono’s header looked goal-bound until Reds defender Daniel Bowles intervened.
Against the run of play, the hosts finally had a shot on goal in the 32nd minute when Evan Kostopoulos fed Ramsay into the box, but the winger scuffed his effort wide.
Western Sydney hit back following Adelaide’s near miss when the influential Hersi combined again with Bridge to cause panic in United’s area.
Bridge collected Hersi’s neat pass inside the box and managed to square to Dino Kresinger, but the Croatian skied his point-blank shot.
The Wanderers eventually made their dominance count on 43 minutes when Hersi capitalised on a game of pinball in Adelaide’s box.
Shannon Cole’s floated cross found Bridge at the back post who cut the ball across to Mooy whose first-time shot was blocked amidst numerous challenges flying in with the Reds unable to clear the danger.
Mooy had a second bite when the ball dropped to his feet but Galekovic pulled off an incredible save to deny the midfielder, but only in vain, as Hersi drove the ball home from a difficult angle.
United barely had time to regroup when Western Sydney struck again 60 seconds later as half-time approached.
The menacing Hersi was released down the right-wing where the former FC Twente star had time to spot the unmarked Bridge who fired high into the net after holding his run.
Hersi was a handful for United’s back four as the Dutchman went close twice after the restart.
The 30-year-old would not be denied a third time and in the 52nd minute he finished a stunning passage of play to extend the Wanderers’ advantage.
Ono cruised forward and threaded in Bridge with a delightful through ball before the latter whipped a ball across to Hersi who nodded in on the line for his second.
Adelaide looked done and dusted until Jon McKain’s back post header from Dario Vidosic’s corner which produced a great save from Western Sydney custodian Ante Covic, brought the crowd to life.
The Reds were spirited with the vocal home support and reduced the deficit on the hour mark when Djite drifted on the outskirts of the box before firing across his body into the opposite corner of the net.
It was only momentary respite however, when Poljak replenished the Wanderers’ three-goal advantage in the 68th minute following a mix up between Galekovic and Nigel Boogaard.
The pair’s mistake resulted in the visitors crossing into the danger area where Bridge miss-kicked only for the ball to fall to Poljak who intelligently feigned to shoot before driving past Galekovic.
Ramsay grabbed a consolation for United deep in the game.