Wanderers have first leg advantage
Tomi Juric was the hero on his Western Sydney Wanderers return as he came off the bench to score the only goal of the first leg of their Asian Champions League final against Al-Hilal.
The Socceroo had been on the sidelines for seven weeks with a groin strain, but coach Tony Popovic turned to him when Wanderers looked unable to break down the Saudi Arabian side's defence at Parramatta Stadium.
Al-Hilal had been the better side, and with Western Sydney needing to take an advantage into the return leg he was introduced 13 minutes after the interval.
Six minutes later he grabbed the all-important goal that gave Popovic's side something to defend in Riyadh next weekend.
Anthony Golec picked up a loose ball and curled in a cross that Juric lost his marker to reach and turn past keeper Abdullah Mohammed Alsdairy.
Juric was unlucky not to grab a second goal soon afterwards when he charged through the defence before seeing his shot hit the post.
His introduction changed the game, as the visitors had looked the more likely to break the deadlock.
In the first half, a slip by Daniel Mullen allowed Abdulla Zori Aldossary to fire in a shot that keeper Ante Covic blocked, and just before the break Brazilian Neves Thiago's through-ball saw Nassir Alshamrani blast over the bar.
After the interval, Yasir Alshahrani's low cross was almost converted in front of goal by Alshamrani.
Popovic brought on another Socceroo in Matthew Spiranovic, for his first game since the World Cup, to help protect the lead.
There was a late scare when, in injury time, Salem Mohammed brought a save out of Covic.
Australia are at 4/7 to win next year's Asian Cup with Saudi Arabia at 1212/1.
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