Brendon Santalab is the Hyundai A-League’s super-sub of super-subs. Opta Data explain why.
After the bitter disappointment of a Sydney Derby Demolition in their season curtain-raiser, Western Sydney Wanderers showed character to overturn a deficit on the road and claim three points in Adelaide in Round 2.
And it was an inspired substitution in the 61st minute that turned the tide for Popa’s men.
Enter Brendon Santalab.
That said, fans will argue that it’s hard to call such a move ‘inspired’ given recent history, as Santalab is making a habit of coming off the substitute’s bench and finding the back of the net.
As Western Sydney Wanderers celebrated their hard-fought win in Adelaide, Tony Popovic will have been thanking his lucky stars to have a player of Santalab’s quality waiting in the wings.
No player has scored more goals from off the bench since the start of last season than Santalab (7) and he also has the best minutes per goal rate of any man to score five or more goals across the same timeframe.
Popovic will no doubt be facing calls to start his prized asset this weekend but given it’s been a winning formula so far, he may elect to stick rather than twist.
In Adelaide, Santalab made an immediate impact from off the bench as he levelled things up for the Wanderers within seven minutes of his introduction to the field.
A beautifully constructed goal (as seen above) by the visitors with Mitch Nichols playing the role of architect; something Nichols would perform for his side again later in the match.
The game opened up and Santalab would find himself involved in a moment of controversy; the striker lunging in late on Adelaide midfielder, James Holland.
The Wanderers man was promptly shown a yellow card, which incensed the home faithful as they were making the case for red.
Santalab would then go on to have the final say in the 91st minute as the striker found himself free by the back post as the ball pushed through by Nichols ended up at his feet, he made no mistake.