Wellington Phoenix completely outclass Melbourne Victory
Wellington Phoenix have produced a superb performance to defeat Melbourne Victory 2-0 in coach Ricki Herbert's 100th match in charge. The New Zealand club completely dominated the Victory to take their record to three wins and a draw in their last five, ending the Victory's run of four consecutive wins and inflicting a first defeat on the two-time A-League champions in their last eight matches.
Michael Petkovic did his utmost to keep the Victory in the match, making save after save until Dylan Macallister netted in the 67th minute before young gun Marco Rojas added a second five minutes later to cap a stellar performance.
It was the Phoenix's first win over the Victory since November 2008 and would give them plenty of hope to sneak a spot in the final six with seven regular season matches remaining for them.
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington Crowd: 9,496 Referee: Chris Beath Yellow cards:WP - Manny Muscat 57' MV - Tom Pondeljak 4'
It was a busy start to the match with action down both ends in the way of free-kicks in goalscoring positions in the first few minutes as both the Phoenix and Victory made their intentions clear.
Wellington had a great chance to take the lead in the 10th minute when youngster Marco Rojas cut the ball back for Tim Brown from the left flank but the midfielder's goal-bound shot was deflected away by Victory's acting captain Adrian Leijer in what was an extremely dangerous moment for the visitors.
Three minutes later, the Victory had a strong chance of their own when Ricardinho dazzled the Phoenix defence before playing it back for Carlos Hernandez but he scuffed his shot straight into the arms of Danny Vukovic.
Wellington were peppering the goals and it seemed like just a matter of time until they would score as the Victory defence, without skipper Kevin Muscat, were struggling to keep a lid on things in the Phoenix's attacking third.
Troy Hearfield got in on the act in the 25th minute, forcing Michael Petkovic into a save with a fierce shot from the right side of the penalty area before captain Andrew Durante's header met the same fate 10 minutes later.
The 36th minute saw Ernie Merrick go to his bench, bringing on new signing Danny Allsopp for his first A-League game since August 2009, replacing Costa Rican winger Marvin Angulo in a tactical move.
The home side kept coming hard at the Victory as the half progressed and it was a miracle that they had not scored when referee Chris Beath blew his whistle to signify half-time.
It was much the same in the opening stages of the second term as the Phoenix went forward again and they were only thwarted by a brave Petkovic save when Durante nodded into the path of fellow centre-half Ben Sigmund who took a neat touch but his shot from close range was blocked by the Victory goalkeeper in the 52nd minute.
Six minutes later, it was Petkovic to the rescue again when Nick Ward crossed with his left foot from the right flank for Vince Lia and although his header was on target, Melbourne's custodian came up with a strong arm to keep his side alive.
The 65th minute saw Rojas dance through the Victory defence before unleashing a shot from inside the 18-yard box but once again Petkovic saved the day with an acrobatic save, tipping the ball over the crossbar.
GOAL Finally, Wellington took a much-deserved lead when Rojas crossed from the left to the back post where Dylan Macallister headed goalward only to see Petkovic make yet another save but the big forward reacted quick enough to knock the rebound in with his left foot to make it 1-0 in the 67th minute and grab his fourth in six games.
Rojas was causing plenty of havoc out on the right flank, waltzing past Victory veteran Tom Pondeljak at will and he got a reward when he hit the back of the net five minutes after the opener. GOAL His initial pass found Macallister, who faked to shoot before teeing up the teenager who whipped it past Petkovic for the Phoenix's second.
Melbourne were at a loss to find any answers as the home side continued to press and it was almost 3-0 in the 77th minute when Rojas found Macallister and the striker's header from close range appeared to hit the arm of Roddy Vargas but the referee simply called for a corner.
The visitors were unlucky with a couple of late non-penalty calls and a top notch save from Danny Vukovic with five minutes left but it was nowhere near enough to get close to the Phoenix who are now just one point out of the top six.
WPDanny Vukovic (gk), Manny Muscat, Tony Lochhead, Nick Ward, Tim Brown, Troy Hearfield, Vince Lia (Bertos 82'), Ben Sigmund, Marco Rojas (Daniel 87'), Andrew Durante, Dylan Macallister (Greenacre 84')
Subs - Reece Crowther (gk), Leo Bertos (82'), Chris Greenacre (84'), Daniel (87')
MV Michael Petkovic (gk), Leigh Broxham (Ferreira 73'), Matthew Kemp (Berger 56'), Grant Brebner, Ricardinho, Marvin Angulo (Allsopp 36'), Roddy Vargas, Billy Celeski, Tom Pondeljak, Carlos Hernandez, Adrian Leijer
Subs - Sebastian Mattei (gk), Danny Allsopp (36'), Evan Berger (56'), Diogo Ferreira (73')