The Wellington Phoenix have earned a dramatic 2-1 win tonight, thanks to a penalty goal in extra time that put the Nix in front for the first time – in the process catapulting them into a coveted top six position.
After a scoreless first half, Adelaide struck first thanks to their captain Stefan Mauk, before Phoenix striker Ben Waine scored an equaliser shortly afterwards. After Sotirio was taken down inside the box, it was then left to Tomer Hemed to sink a penalty in the 97th minute - - the Israeli striker showing immense poise to win the match, capping off a remarkable come-from-behind victory for the Phoenix.
In order to rotate the squad, Wellington made several changes to their Starting XI; Hemed joining Waine in the line-up - the first time these two have started together this season – with James McGarry, Josh Laws and Alex Rufer also coming in.
In contrast, Adelaide would name an unchanged Starting XI from the one that drew 2-2 with Sydney FC last Sunday.
The match opened with a stunning ANZAC Day tribute, featuring a recitation of The Ode, The Last Post performed on bugle and the singing of both Australian and New Zealand Anthems, as well as a moment’s silence to honour those who had lost their lives in Gallipoli.
Here’s the key moments from this match:
2’ – Big chance for Waine
After McGarry rescues the errant ball on the left side, he gets it up to Ulises Davila; the Mexican attacker using fancy footwork to evade his man before delivering a cross into Adelaide’s box and a waiting Waine – his header over Red goalkeeper Joe Gauci on target but striking the crossbar. Phoenix putting pressure on Adelaide early.
14’ – Davila takes on the Reds
After taking a pass from Waine, Davila finds himself surrounded by three Adelaide players but still manages to launch a strong left-footed shot from the centre of the box – which strikes Gauci in the chest.
27’ - Goodwin on target
Adelaide’s Craig Goodwin makes a strong drive on the left side, launching a shot which is on target, but blocked by Nix goalkeeper Oli Sail – Adelaide’s best chance so far in this match.
Half Time – Wellington Phoenix 0, Adelaide United 0
The first half sees neither team on the scoreboard, with the Nix being the more dominant attacking side with five attempts (two on target) versus the Reds three attempts (one on target) but Adelaide with the possession advantage.
The Nix have been in this position before, coming out of a scoreless first half just two matches prior against Perth and going on to win that match 3-1 – so they know they will need another dominant second half like they had against the Glory.
48’ – Opportunities missed for Adelaide
Mauk forays into the Phoenix box and gets a short pass off to a waiting Adelaide player near the goal; Tim Payne doing an outstanding defensive job to deflect the attempt and prevent a possible goal.
A minute later, a long distance attempt from Ben Halloran is saved by Sail and the Reds are unable to clean up the subsequent loose ball in front of goal.
51’ – GOAL: Mauk puts it home (0-1)
An invigorated Stefan Mauk takes a pass from Ryan Strain near the goal, launching a shot from the centre of the box past an outstretched Sail – his goal giving Adelaide their first lead of the match.
This is Mauk’s seventh goal of the season and the 20th for his A-League career.
58’ – GOAL: Here comes the Waine Train (1-1)
Undeterred by the deficit, the Phoenix continue to press the attack. Davila gets it ahead to Tomer Hemed, who is taken down outside the box by a Nix defender; no foul is called, and Waine picks up the errant ball, evades Gauci and slots home the goal on the right side.
After an anxious wait for a VAR offside check, Waine’s goal is validated – giving the 19-year-old his sixth goal of the season and Hemed’s second assist. Waine becomes only the fourth Nix player to score in four straight matches, joining the likes of Davila, Jeremy Brockie and Roy Krishna in doing so; prestigious company for the ex-Phoenix Academy striker.
76’ – Sail shows class
Ryan Strain launches a left-footed shot from the centre of the box which is on target; Sail making a top-shelf save to prevent the goal. Sail continues to impress this match – and this season - with another big defensive play to stifle the opposition.
87’ – Toure and Hemed trade attempts
Both teams frantically search for a goal to give their side a late lead. First a recently subbed in Al Hassan Toure receives a pass from Halloran and launches a shot from outside the box which can’t connect; then two minutes later, Hemed finds himself in front of goal and launches a powerful turnaround shot that goes inches wide of the Red’s goal.
90+7’ – GOAL: Hemed the Hero (2-1)
A scramble inside the Reds box sees Sotirio taken down by Gauci from behind. The subsequent penalty attempt is taken by Hemed, who calmly slots home the goal to give Wellington the last-minute lead.
This is Hemed’s fifth goal of the season and his second penalty; the forward celebrating with his fellow Israeli supporters in the stands following his match-winning performance.
Full Time – Wellington Phoenix 2, Adelaide United 1
The Nix earn arguably their most important win on the season, defeating one of the top-ranked sides in the competition and further proving themselves a force to be reckoned with.
This win sees Wellington go into the top six for the first time this season, picking up seven points in a span of seven days and extending their unbeaten streak to four matches in the process.
Following the match, Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay was complimentary of his two goal scorers.
“For us this is a very valuable three points tonight [against] very good opposition, that’s four games four with three we’ve won and one we’ve drawn – so it’s very important for us at this back end of the season to pick up these points,” said Talay.
“Hemed stepped up tonight and was very composed to put it into the back of the net and win us the game – so I very pleased for Tomer and hopefully he can build on that as well.
“And that’s why he [Waine] is out there and that’s what his job is - to score goals – so it’s pleasing for us, it’s pleasing for Waino.
“And it’s not just the goals that he scores; it’s the work that he does off-ball for the team and when we’re pressing and covering spaces, holding up the ball – I think he’s growing in stature.”
The Phoenix will next travel to Brisbane on Saturday 1st May to face the Roar at Moreton Daily Stadium, a team they drew 1-1 with earlier in the season.
Wellington Phoenix squad: 5.James MCGARRY, 6.Tim PAYNE, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Tomer HEMED, 18.Ben WAINE, 20.Oliver SAIL, 21.Joshua LAWS, 23.Clayton LEWIS
Adelaide United squad: 3.George TIMOTHEOU, 4.Ryan STRAIN, 6.Louis D’ARRIGO, 8.Stefan MAUK (c), 9.Tomi JURIC, 11.Craig GOODWIN, 23.Jordan ELSEY, 26.Ben HALLORAN, 27.Josh CAVALLO, 28. JUANDE, 46.Joe GAUCI (gk)
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
74’ ON 8.Cameron DEVLIN OFF 14.Alex RUFER
82’ ON 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO OFF 18.Ben WAINE
82’ ON 19.Sam SUTTON OFF 5.James MCGARRY
90+8’ ON 27.Steven TAYLOR OFF 17.Tomer HEMED
Adelaide United Substitutions
82’ ON 35.Al Hassan TOURE OFF 8.Stefan MAUK
82’ ON 29.Kusini YENGI OFF 9.Tomi JURIC
90+1’ ON 7.Ryan KITTO OFF 11.Craig GOODWIN
51’ Stefan MAUK (Adelaide United)
59’ Ben WAINE (Wellington Phoenix)
90+7’ Tomer HEMED (Wellington Phoenix)
Next Match details
Match Week 19: Wellington Phoenix versus Brisbane Roar, Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe, Saturday 1 May 2021, kick-off at 5.05pm AEDT (7.05pm NZ time)