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Popovic sees merit in 3-0 A-League loss

AAP logoAAP 12/11/2016 Ben McKay

In A-League history, there can't have been too many better 3-0 losers than Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night.

Tony Popovic's side were extremely hard done by to leave Etihad Stadium on the wrong end of the lopsided scoreline.

The Wanderers bossed the match in the first half, and finished the match with more possession, shots and more time in the opposition half than the victors.

Perhaps that's why Popovic spared his players the blowtorch after the match, instead focussing on the positives.

"To come to Melbourne and play the way we did in the first half, we're delighted with that," Popovic said.

"I wouldn't say the second half was poor either. Our first 15 minutes were excellent.

"Even at 2-0 we had some fantastic opportunities to get it back to 2-1.

"Overall we're disappointed. We're getting punished for mistakes which is clear. Our football is excellent.

"But we need to do better in our final third, the final pass and shot, to get rewarded for our good play."

The man who drew Popovic's ire was referee Jarred Gillett.

Gillett decided against awarding a penalty to Western Sydney when Jason Geria crudely tackled Jumpei Kasakumi in the box.

Replays showed the young full-back missed the ball and clattered the Japanese attacker.

The Wanderers boss made pointed reference to the club's record with Gillett in the middle - just one win in the last 11 games - suggesting "maybe it's just a coincidence".

But he couldn't contain himself when discussing the incident - which Victory coach Kevin Muscat agreed was worthy of a spot kick.

"If that's not a penalty, they should book him for diving," Popovic said.

"It was a clear penalty. There will not be a clearer one this year in the A-League.

"They're game-changers (but) we have to move on. They'll explain themselves and move on as well. We'll do what we can do better and hopefully they will too."

Popovic will wait to see if Brendon Santalab, who was substituted with calf tightness at half-time, can play in next Friday night's match with Melbourne City.

Either way, he expects his players to carry themselves as if they were the winners against Victory.

"There won't be a dent in confidence and belief because of the result," he said.

"We know that in six weeks we will be a lot better. In 12 weeks it will be a lot better.

"To be playing the way we are after six rounds is fantastic."

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