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Popovic praise for Wanderers' tenacity in win

Wanderers striker Oriol Riera (centre) celebrates scoring one of his two goals against Blacktown City in the FFA Cup quarter-final.
Wanderers striker Oriol Riera (centre) celebrates scoring one of his two goals against Blacktown City in the FFA Cup quarter-final. Matt King

WANDERERS boss Tony Popovic has hailed his side's character after they survived an almighty scare to reach the FFA Cup semi-finals.

Western Sydney will host Adelaide in the last four after edging out NPL side Blacktown City on penalties on Wednesday night.

A goal ahead in the second minute, Western Sydney missed a host of chances and needed an equaliser late in extra-time to avoid a giant-killing before winning the penalty shootout by 4-2.

Popovic described the experience as "a mix of emotions”, but took pleasure from his team's refusal to concede defeat after Blacktown went 2-1 up in extra-time.

"They've got character, they've got fight, they've got belief,” Popovic said of his team.

"Even when things go against us, we can come through.

"We should have put the game out of reach, and in the end it was our character that got us through.

"To be 2-1 down in extra time, with three or four boys cramping and fatigued, we had to show a lot spirit to come back and then composure with the penalties.

"That's really pleasing, that the boys were composed and clear in what they wanted to execute. It can go either way but we deserved it.”

Popovic offered a mixed report on Spanish marquee striker Oriol Riera, who scored twice but who also missed several chances thanks to the heroics of Blacktown keeper Tristan Prendergast.

"I'm disappointed a bit, he (Riera) should have had several goals,” Popovic said.

"We've got time still to work on that but the key is he's in great positions.

"He's a worker, you can see his running in extra time. He got two goals and the winning penalty so we have a quality player.

"Now we're a step closer to a final.

"We'll host Adelaide but before then there's some work to do and a few A-League games to tick off. We'll be ready for the semi-final.”

Topics:  ffa cup 2017 oriol riera tony popovic western sydney wanderers



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