Angus Thurgate scored for the second straight match as Newcastle Jets finished strongly in a wide open 2-0 win against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Until Thurgate broke the deadlock in the 77th minute, Glen Moss and Daniel Lopar put on a highlight reel of goalkeeping heroics as both sides were locked out for the majority of the game.
Ernie Merrick’s side carved through the Wanderers defence over and over again in the first half but Swiss shot-stopper Lopar was equal to everything thrown at him at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Moss strung together his own showcase of spectacular stops after the break, the highlight being a remarkable double save from Mitchel Duke and Nicolai Müller on 62 minutes, before Duke lashed over from inside the penalty area.
Entering the final stages, teenage substitute Thurgate – who netted the winner against Western United two weeks ago – pounced from close range against the run of play with the 26th effort on goal of a rollercoaster contest.
Dimitri Petratos had the final word from Thurgate’s square ball, after another break away, to double the lead and condemn Wanderers to a fourth straight match without a win.
After a cagey opening quarter of an hour, the match was blown wide open when Jason Hoffman burst through the Wanderers defence but Swiss keeper Lopar came to the rescue.
The Red and Black had controlled possession but could not fashion an opportunity until Bruce Kamau’s cross found Duke but the Western Sydney skipper’s 25th-minute header looped over.
Newcastle started to find their groove when Hoffman split Western Sydney’s backline on the half hour but Lopar was the saviour again, making a last-ditch block to deny ex-Wanderer Nick Fitzgerald.
Lopar’s heroics continued when the returning Abdiel Arroyo lashed an angled strike at goal, which he parried away, before the Swiss keeper repelled Fitzgerald’s long-range effort.
Moss flexed his goalkeeping muscles on the stroke of half-time, finger-tipping Duke’s fizzing strike over the bar, and executed his sensational double save on 62 minutes from Duke and Müller, before Duke lashed the third bite off target from close range.
With an end-to-end contest drawing to a close, the match tipped in the Jets favour with two goals in eight minutes, as Thurgate finally beat Lopar, before Petratos put the finishing touches on Newcastle’s second straight win.
Swiss superman Lopar to the rescue
Newcastle were throwing everything at Western Sydney in the lead up to half-time, but Lopar continued to repel the ball.
Hoffman and Fitzgerland were both denied when clean through on goal, Arroyo slammed an angled drive at goal, which Lopar finger-tipped to safety, and Fitzgerald tried to mix up the Jets' arsenal and took aim from distance.
It was a well-hit strike from the 27-year-old, but Lopar threw himself across his goal-mouth and pushed the ball away from danger with strong hands.
Moss and the crossbar deny Duke's rocket
With the clock ticking close to half-time and Western Sydney struggling to pierce the Newcastle Jets' armour, Duke decided to take things into his own hands.
The Wanderers captain hit a rasping drive from all of 30 yards which seemed destined to rise into the roof of the hosts' net, but the fingertip of a full-length diving Moss.
It was a sign of things to come in the second half as Moss continued to be the thorn in the Red and Black's side.
Duke cannot believe his eyes after Moss double save
Western Sydney thought their moment had arrived with the Jets pinned back deep in their own territory on 62 minutes.
What happened next takes some believing. Not once, but twice, Moss produced miracle stops before Duke somehow lifted the third attempt over the gaping Newcastle goal.
The 36-year-old Kiwi's reaction and recovery to make the second save is a moment of wonder.
Thurgate makes the break through
It was a moment which seemed destined to never arrive.
After being introduced in the 63rd minute for Arroyo, the 19-year-old seized his opportunity with both hands.
With the 26th shot of an absorbing contest, Thurgate collected Matthew Ridenton's cushioned header and lashed it past a previously unstoppable Lopar.
Petratos adds the exclamation mark
Down to ten men, due to injury, and throwing caution to the wind, Wanderers were ripe for the picking in the final minutes.
One long ball over the top and Thurgate was clean through on goal without a defender in sight.
The substitute took the simple option and played the square pass to Newcastle's talisman, Petratos, who added the easiest of finishes.
Western Sydney Wanderers go across the ditch to play Wellington Phoenix in their Round 9 clash at Eden Park, Auckland, at 5pm AEDT on Saturday, 7 December.
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