Roar up to second thanks to Gielnik’s brace against Wanderers
Brisbane Roar have come from behind to beat Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 on Thursday night to move into second spot on the Westfield W-League ladder.
All the goals came in a thrilling first-half, that saw the Wanderers take an early lead thanks to a fantastic goal from Leena Khamis.
But it was Emily Gielnik who stole the show, scoring a quickfire brace to hand Roar a third straight win to lift them above Canberra United on the table.
It was Gielnik’s sixth career double on the Westfield W-League, while she has joined Michelle Heyman at the top of the Golden Boot standings with six goals for the campaign.
The Wanderers, who needed a win to keep their finals hopes alive, threw everything at the Roar after the break but were denied on two occasions by the woodwork.
Dean Heffernan’s side remain in eighth place on four points, six adrift of the top four.
Roar’s win sets up a blockbuster top-of-the-table clash with fellow unbeaten side and league-leaders Sydney FC on Sunday.
Composed Khamis opens the scoring
It was Roar who had the better of the early exchanges but it was the home side that produced the first bit of quality in the front third to take the lead inside 14 minutes.
Classy playmaker Libby Copus-Brown was the architect, producing a brilliant pass over the top of the Roar defence to find Khamis.
The veteran striker controlled the ball and beat one defender before calmly slotting the ball past Morgan Aquino.
Gielnik with instant reply for Roar
Before the Wanderers had the chance to build on their lead, Roar were back on level terms just two minutes later.
A cross from the left was punched away by Wanderers keeper Sarah Willacy, before Isobel Dalton fired a low shot back into the box.
The ball fell inadvertently to Gielnik, who did well to get the ball out of her feet and fire into the roof of the net.
Roar hit the front via a penalty
The visitors were beginning to take control and were given a great chance to take the lead just after the half-hour mark.
Mariel Hecher’s attempted cross struck the arm of Georgia Yeoman-Dale, with the referee having no hesitation to award a penalty.
Gielnik wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to score a second, sending Willacy the wrong way and tucking the ball into the bottom left corner.
Post denies Wanderers an equaliser
The Wanderers were pushing hard for a leveller and were inches away from doing just that with less than 20 minutes to go.
It took a sensational save from Roar shot-stopper Aquino to deny Julie-Anne Russell, before the rebound fell to teenager Sarah Hunter.
The 17-year-old – who had a boisterous cheer squad in the stands – saw her header bounce towards the goal, only to hit the post before Roar cleared the danger.
Gielnik misses chance for the hat-trick
The Wanderers had done a good job keeping Gielnik quiet in the second half but the Westfield Matildas star almost completed her hat-trick nine minutes from the end.
Some beautiful build-up play ended with substitute Leticia McKenna sending Gielnik through one-on-one with Willacy.
Gielnik’s strike was on target but the Wanderers keeper showed great reflexes to get something on the shot to put it behind for a corner.
Wanderers hit the woodwork again
In a frantic end, the Wanderers pushed forward at will and were again denied by the frame of the goal with five minutes remaining.
Danika Matos’ cross was flicked on by Khamis and falling nicely to Bryleeh Henry at the far post.
The youngster’s powerful hit had Aquino beaten by it cannoned off the crossbar and away, much to the frustration of the Wanderers’ home fans.
Aquino comes up big at the death
There was still time for one last chance for the Wanderers in the sixth minute of stoppage-time but Aquino was Roar's hero.
In her starting debut for the club, the impressive shot-stopper showed incredible reflexes to somehow keep out Khamis' goal-bound effort to preserve all three points for the visitors.
Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar
When: Sunday, February 14
Where: Leichhardt Oval