Wellington Phoenix have finally deliver the result some of their early performances have merited putting Perth Glory to the sword 5-2 at Westpac Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
After a disappointing performance on the road against Newcastle Jets, Darije Kalezić’s men showed tremendous character and resilience especially in the minutes immediately following Glory’s goals to give their loyal fans an afternoon to remember.
It was a bright start from Phoenix with Matt Ridenton looking especially lively in midfield. The young New Zealander giving Diego Castro no time on the ball, nipping in to pinch it, and then drilling crossfield to Roy Krishna who almost carved the first opening of the game.
With seven minutes on the clock Wellington put themselves under pressure however with an underhit pass back to Keegan Smith putting the young ‘keeper in trouble, and he stumbled while clearing and was adjudged to have handled the ball.
No mistake from the resulting indirect freekick as two of Glory’s Spaniards combined as Castro laid off for Xavi Torres who caressed home a terrific strike home.
If home fans were worried it didn’t take Nix long to amend matters – fine work from Krishna in the 12th minute saw the Fijian free to stand up a tempting cross into the middle, and a flying Dario Vidosic was on hand to head home his third goal of the campaign, and a third headed effort.
Seven minutes later Phoenix almost had the lead as the Socceroo went down inside the box under contact but referee Kurt Ams wasn’t interested and nor presumably was the VAR.
Castro reminded home fans of his talents flashing a driven effort past Smith’s goal but it Phoenix who almost went ahead as Vidosic found Andrija Kaludjerovic on a fast counter-attack, and even though the Serbian stumbled he still prodded an effort goalwards that rolled just agonisingly wide.
A goal was coming and again it was Krishna at the heart of it – the Fijian capitalised on a defensive error to run at the Perth back four, before laying off for Goran Paracki who fired home brilliantly past Liam Reddy in the 33rd minute.
Perth looked to press, with Andy Keogh making himself a nuisance as usual, but he was well-marshalled by Dylan Fox, a late call-up after Scott Galloway succumbed to injury in the warm up.
The curse of the Phoenix defenders struck again in the 44th minute as Fox limped off with a possible hamstring tear, but it remained 2-1 at the break.
Whatever Kenny Lowe said at half-time had immediate effect with Shane Lowry, brother of Nix’s Ryan heading powerfully home through Smith at the near post just a minute into the second stanza.
But rather than go into their shells, Phoenix showed great determination – Daniel Mullen with a marauding run out of centre defence brought some momentum before a terrific flick pass from Kaludjerovic found Krishna who crossed for Gui Finkler.
The Brazilian showed excellent composure to cut back inside and fire home through a crowd of bodies, 3-2 Phoenix in the 51st minute.
From there the match began to open up, Alex Rufer on at right back, played a terrific ball for Kaludjerovic but he headed high, before the VAR finally entered the fray.
Kaludjerovic’s shot was stopped by the hand of Scott Neville inside the box and after an interminable wait, the Serbian stepped up to confidently smash home for 4-2.
From there, Phoenix and their faithful supporters enjoyed the better of exchanges although Castro and Keogh were always a danger at the other end.
Substitute Adam Parkhouse crowning the win with a terrific whipped ball in and Kaludjerovic rose brilliantly to nod home for five in the 87th minute.
Those fans who backed up after an epic 0-0 draw last night between New Zealand and Peru in the World Cup qualifier were rewarded for their loyalty with a five-star performance that in truth has been threatening for some time.
Wellington Phoenix 5-2 Perth Glory (Kaludjerovic 74’ pen, 87’, Vidosic 13’, Paracki 34’, Finkler 52’; Torres 9’, Lowry 46’)
Smith (gk); Mullen, Fox (44’ Rufer), Rossi, Abbas; Paracki, Ridenton, Krishna, Finkler, Vidosic (Parkhouse 81’); Kaludjerovic (Watson 89’)
Unused: Italiano (gk), Doyle
Reddy (gk); Neville (Poscoliero 78’), Grant, Lowry, Torres; Andreu (Brimmer 70’), Wilson, Nichols, Diego Castro, Harold (Mallia 60’); Keogh
Unused: Feely (gk), Knowles