Safuwan scores again, but Melbourne City lose
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS 3
(Mateo Poljak 38, Tomi Juric 79-pen, Nikita Rukavystya 92)
MELBOURNE CITY 2
(Safuwan Baharudin 28, Aaron Mooy 71)
It all seemed promising for Safuwan Baharudin 30 minutes into his team's A-League clash with reigning Asian club champions Western Sydney Wanderers at the Pirtek Stadium in Sydney yesterday.
The 23-year-old Singapore football star struck a classic poacher's goal for Melbourne City when he nodded in a 28th-minute header past ex-Liverpool reserve goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis - his second goal for the club since joining on a three-month loan last month.
But it went downhill for Safuwan and City after that, as they ended up losing 3-2 after conceding two late goals.
Worse, Safuwan, who played the whole 90 minutes, is now a doubt for City's next game because of a head injury.
City will host Newcastle Jets at the AAMI Park on Saturday.
Speaking to The New Paper after the game, Safuwan, who played at left back once again, said: "My head is really hurting now, after the clash of heads I had (with Labinot Haliti in the 18th minute).
"At half-time, I felt nauseous. Now, there's a bruise on my head and I'm not sure if I can play the next game.
"We'll have to see how well I can recover in the next few days."
City coach John van't Schip will be sweating over Safuwan's fitness, especially after regular centre back Connor Chapman picked up a silly red card for shoving the referee in the 82nd minute.
The sending-off completed a bad day at the office for City.
Just 10 minutes after Safuwan's goal, Wanderers' Croatian midfielder Mateo Poljak steered home from close range to level the scores.
Even though Aaron Mooy put City back in front with a fortuitous free-kick, Wanderers claimed all three points by scoring two late goals, first through a Tomi Juric penalty 11 minutes before the end and then a Nikita Rukavystya volley in injury time.
Safuwan, though, can be pleased with his individual performance.
While he has been used in the centre of midfield, this was his third straight game at left back for City - he was an unused substitute in two games and has played in five matches - the Lions star was adventurous on the overlap, earning his team a number of free-kicks in good attacking positions.
He was lucky to escape a yellow card, however, after a cynical attempt to take out Haliti in the 60th minute was missed by the referee.
The result - which follows a 1-0 defeat by Central Coast Mariners last Sunday - means City remain seventh in the A-League, a point behind Brisbane Roar despite having played two games more.
City have only seven more games to try and claw their way back into the top six, which would see them qualify for the Grand Final play-offs.
Said Safuwan: "It felt really good to score again. It was just a case of being at the right place at the right time, for both my goals.
"The mood around the team is still good, but we are a little frustrated because we knew the three points were there for us to take, but we slipped up again for the second game in a row.
"Now, every game is important to us because we badly want to make it to the Finals.
"And we want to start with a win on Saturday."
Total passes: 23 (19 in defensive half, 4 in attacking half)
Pass accuracy: 64%
Tackles: 3 (won 2)
Aerial duels: 3 (won 3)
Shots: 1 (on target)