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Popovic hails Wanderers´ killer instinct

Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic admits it will be hard to fly under the radar after their demolition of Adelaide on Friday night.

In a clear indication the A-League newcomers are contenders for the title, the Wanderers finally found their goal-scoring boots to crush the previously in-form Reds 6-1 at Parramatta Stadium.

Considering the club had scored just eight goals in their previous 11 matches, the margin of the result came as a huge shock but Popovic felt it was just reward for his side’s consistent start to the season.

“All along we’ve maintained that with our performances and the opportunities we created, that a day would come when things fall for us and we punish the opposition,” a delighted Popovic said.

“The difference was (tonight) we put away our opportunities and finished the game off.

“It’s always difficult at 3-0 (at half-time), whether you take your foot off the pedal and try and hold on.

“To get another three goals in the second half was extremely pleasing.”

The exceptional performance and manner of the victory is sure to increase the attention on the Wanderers, who have moved into third spot on the A-League ladder.

But Popovic said any extra scrutiny on his side will be no problem, confident they have the belief and mental strength to keep improving and not get complacent.

“I think (the other side’s) were looking at us anyway,” he said.

“We’re a new club and everyone’s looking to see how we’re going week by week. As a club we’re trying to improve daily, on and off the field.

“If they look at us in a different light (after the 6-1 win over Adelaide), that’s fine.

“The main thing is that we stay grounded and focused and keep trying to build.”

A huge criticism of the Wanderers’ title hopes before Friday’s thrashing was their lack of firepower in front of goal.

Asked if they have now blown that theory out of the water, Popovic said: “I don’t know about that.

“We don’t talk that way at our club or in the dressing room, the firepower is the same as it was in Round 1.

“We always believed in our players and we’ll continue to do so.

“I’ll certainly enjoy Christmas lunch a little more after that victory, but we’ve got a tough 10-day period coming up.

“Three games in 10 days against very good opponents in Perth, Melbourne Victory and Central Coast. So our focus is on those three games.”

Striker Mark Bridge, who made his return to the side after two weeks out with a hamstring injury, was the star for the home side grabbing a hat-trick.

Croatian striker Dino Kresinger, marquee man Shinji Ono and substitute Joey Gibbs also got on the scoresheet, while Youssouf Hersi was a constant threat and set up four of the goals.

While the Wanderers didn’t have a bad player, Popovic singled out Bridge for special praise.

“He did (do something special). He’s been finding opportunities in every game he’s played, which is really pleasing,” Popovic said of the former Sydney FC man.

“He gets in the right positions. Unfortunately for him he hasn’t had the reward for his good play, so for him to get a hat-trick … I’m sure he’ll go home happy but we’re all pleased with him.”

The only downside for the Wanderers was a calf injury to Adam D’Apuzzo, with Popovic hopeful the damage to in-form left-back was only minimal.

Sat 22 December, 2012
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