Guarrotxena stars as United trounce Bulls

·2-min read

Ballarat is a long way from Bilbao but Spanish import Iker Guarrotxena was right at home as he led Western United to a statement 4-1 victory over A-League newcomers Macarthur FC.

Macarthur's Spanish duo Benat Etxebarria and Markel Susaeta have more accomplished resumes but it was United's own Basque signing - who never made a La Liga appearance with Athletic Bilbao - who put his name up in lights on Saturday night.

Guarrotxena opened the scoring with a delightful solo effort in the 26th minute then turned creator for Besart Berisha's tap-in on the stroke of halftime, with second-half goals to Dylan Pierias and Berisha rounding out the rout.

"At the end of the day, when (Guarrotxena's) driving at players, running forward, you've got the amount of freedom that you want," coach Mark Rudan said.

"You want to slip someone in, you slip in, you want to run with the ball and drive, you drive.

"You want to shoot from 40 metres like he did today - that's exaggerating - you shoot.

"You've got to give these players freedom and trust them in the attacking third."

For his first A-League goal, Guarrotxena played a one-two with Steven Lustica, then ghosted past Etxebarria and rifled a low shot into the bottom corner.

In the 45th minute, Guarrotxena casually turned on the ball and curled a sublime ball across the field to Diamanti.

The United skipper took stock of onrushing Bulls goalkeeper Adam Federici and coolly squared for Berisha to tap home.

The Bulls sparked into life after halftime, with Matt Derbyshire, Extebarria and James Meredith all having shots on goal.

Then, in the 54th minute, Diamanti slipped through a ball for Pierias to turn on the afterburners and snag United's third - on his 21st birthday - with Meredith suffering a suspected groin injury in pursuit.

United made the result a certainty 12 minutes later when Guarrotxena took a lovely touch in traffic and curled a close-range shot onto the post, with Berisha on hand to bury the rebound.

Berisha's second goal was his 138th A-League strike, taking him past Rod Brown and into outright second on the all-time Australian national league scorers' list, behind only Damian Mori (240).

Derbyshire headed home in the 91st minute but it was little consolation for Macarthur, who spurned the chance to consolidate second spot.

"We started well in the second half, we had a couple of chances but they're a difficult team to get past and also (a) threat in transition," Macarthur coach Ante Milicic said.

"They were very clinical, they scored their chances and in the end, it wasn't our day."

Milicic left the touchline before full-time - missing Derbyshire's goal - but later clarified he had needed the bathroom, and had congratulated the United bench before departing.