The Western Sydney Wanderers have produced arguably the greatest comeback of A-League history after coming from 3-0 down to clinch a 5-4 victory in extra time.
20, 084 fans strolled through the gates on Sunday afternoon in Parramatta, with spectators still taking their seats ten minutes into the game who were unaware of what history was about to unfold.
The home side experienced a nightmare start, with a handball by Spanish midfielder, Andreu forcing referee Peter Green to point to the spot before Dimitri Petratos duly converted in the 16th minute. Andreu was on the end of more misfortune shortly after Corona's delivery bounced off his backside into his own goal.
Before the home fans could ponder a comeback from their side, Jamie Maclaren only worsened their blows, after his deflected shot dipped over Andrew Redmayne for a three goal lead after just 23 minutes.
Was all lost already? After all the confidence the Wanderers had taken into the game on the back of two successive victories they were suddenly staring down the barrel of a humiliating finals exit at home.
Enter Romeo Castelen.
Western Sydney were awarded a free kick shortly after Maclaren's strike, and the Dutchman stepped up and firmly lashed the ball past the wall and out of Jamie Young's reach to restore hope when the match was still only 26 minutes old.
Then six minutes prior to half-time, Castelen was fouled only for referee Green to wave advantage and allow Brendon Santalab to slot home as the crowd burst into pure euphoria. Their side was suddenly back in this game thanks to Santalab, who was so renowned for his 'super-sub' antics for majority of the season but has now scored six of his eleven goals this season from the starting line-up.
The chaos ensued after the break as Castelen stabbed home a loose ball from six yards out to level the scores at 3-3, bringing the house down at Wanderland in the process. Castelen still wasn't done as the former Netherlands international sensationally lashed home on the half-volley to astonishingly take the lead for the first time.
The fairytale farewell to Pirtek Stadium for Western Sydney still had more twists and turns than one of Castelen's mazy dribbles, as the 'slippery fish' Henrique pounced off the bench against his old nemesis to set up Jamie Maclaren for the equaliser and his 20th goal of the season.
After some frantic moments towards the last minutes of regular time, the two teams could not be split and were forced into another 30 minutes of extra time to decide Adelaide's opponent for the Grand Final next Sunday. Both teams threatened, however the fresher legs of Shannon Cole and Dario Vidosic for the Wanderers ultimately got the job done.
Lovely interplay between Cole and Mark Bridge released Vidosic on goal only for his shot to be parried by Jamie Young into the path of Bridge who squared the ball back for the Wanderers' Aussie marquee to re-establish their lead.
After a nerve-wracking second half of Extra Time for the home crowd, the Wanderers eventually saw off the challenge of the Roar to scrape through to the final on simply remarkable terms.
In just their fourth season of existence, the Western Sydney Wanderers have qualified for their third Grand Final appearance as they prepare to face Adelaide United at Adelaide Oval next Sunday evening. Both sides are making their third Grand Final appearances after losing their first two with a new champion set to be crowned for the first time.
Western Sydney Wanderers 5 (Romeo Castelen 26’, 53’, 59’, Brendon Santalab 39’, Dario Vidosic 102’)
Brisbane Roar 4 (Jamie Maclaren 23’, 81’, Dimitri Petratos 16’ (pen), own goal Andreu 20’)
Crowd: 20, 804 at Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta