Match Report: Western United 2-1 Newcastle Jets – Lacroix brace wins it

Leo Lacroix Western United

A brace from Leo Lacroix earned Western United a hard fought 2-1 victory over Newcastle Jets at Mars Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Swiss defender opened his account in Australian football with a first-half header from a Ben Garuccio corner before scoring a second with his head in the second period.

Angus Thurgate pulled one back late on for the Jets and Nikolai Topor-Stanley had a red card shown to him late on to increase the drama, but the No.44 was able to stay on the pitch after a VAR review and United held on for all three points.

Team News

Tomoki Imai returned to the starting XI to make his 50th appearance in the A-League Men, replacing Josh Risdon who missed out due to personal reasons.

Rene Krhin kept his place in midfield for a second straight start, and Aleksandar Prijovic led the line looking to make it a seventh game in a row with a goal contribution.

First Half

Western United sought to control the early tempo of the match with plenty of possession in midfield and some good attacking play in the wide areas.

A relatively quiet opening to the first half was lit up by a Western United goal just after the first quarter of an hour, and it was a maiden goal for the Club for Lacroix.

Ben Garuccio whipped in a beautiful in-swinging corner that Lacroix was able to run onto uncontested and cushion a lovely header past Jack Duncan and into the back of the net.

From there, the first half was largely lacking in big moments, but both sides enjoyed spells of possession and forays into the final third without either goalkeeper really being troubled.

Newcastle began to turn the screw slightly heading into half-time with a lot of their work coming through the ever dangerous Daniel Penha, but United’s resolute defence held out the visitors’ advances and ensured Lacroix’s goal was the only one heading into half-time.

Second Half

United came out of half-time with a desire to add to the score line and dictated much of the early play in the second period.

And the goal wasn’t far in coming, and just like London buses they were all coming at once for Lacroix who scored his second header of the match.

Steven Lustica looped a volley high into the air after a cleared corner, before Prijovic chased it down and put the ball across the six-yard box.

Lacroix was virtually unchallenged with the header has he towered above everyone else in the box to nod into an empty net.

That gave United the ascendancy and the Green and Black went in search of a third goal. Lachie Wales very nearly got in behind Duncan but for a late save from the keeper. Prijovic then had a chance of his own moments later as he cut inside from the left, but couldn’t direct his shot far enough into the corner.

Just as John Aloisi’s side looked to be taking the sting out of the game, Newcastle found a route back in for the final 10 minutes.

A deep cross to the back post was met by Dylan Murnane who slid in to square the ball for Angus Thurgate, and the Jets midfielder bundled the ball just over the line and into the net.

That kept the pressure on the home side going into the end of the match, and it looked as if the pressure would multiple when Topor-Stanley was shown a red card in injury time.

Thankfully for United, a VAR review downgraded the red card to a yellow, and United saw out the remainder of the match with Adisu Bayew very nearly putting the icing on the cake in the dying moments.

Western United has now won four matches in a row for the second time this season, and opens up a three-point lead at the top of the table.