A sumptuous free-kick by Gui Finkler gave the Wellington Phoenix a 2-1 win over Beijing BG and the Beijing-Wellington Capital Cup at the Olympic Sports Centre Stadium on Wednesday night.
In atrocious conditions thanks to a vicious storm hitting the Chinese capital right on kickoff, the Phoenix overcame the shock of a fourth minute goal from Bu Xin to become the first holders of the trophy that celebrates 10 years of the sister city relationship between the two capital cities.
It didn’t take long for the Phoenix to get back on level terms with Finkler releasing Kosta Barbarouses on the right flank and the livewire striker squared a perfect ball for Hamish Watson to score from close range.
Four minutes from halftime the Phoenix earned a free-kick just outside the penalty area and Finkler produced the perfect shot into the top left corner of the net.
In the first 45 minutes Beijing BG competed well but in the second half had to play second fiddle to an assured Phoenix side.
In the latter stages both teams made several changes with Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick keeping his promise to give the talented youngsters in the A-League team’s travelling squad some game time and they made the most of their opportunity.
Merrick was delighted with the win on foreign soil and the pre-season hit out it gave his squad.
“It has been a pleasure to come to Beijing and the hospitality has been outstanding,” Merrick said.
“To get the opportunity to play before a crowd of almost 20,000 fans and the atmosphere they created was fantastic.
“Beijing BG were very sharp because they are two-thirds through their regular season and we were pretty rusty in the opening stages conceding a goal in the first five minutes.
“We responded quickly with Gui sending Kosta away with a lovely through ball and he set up Hamish Watson for the equaliser.
“The longer the first half went on we created several chances, though they had their opportunities as well.
“It was a great way for our new signings Finkler and Barbarouses to introduce themselves. Both had outstanding games with Kosta winning the man-of-the-match award.
“The way they fitted into our style of play as a partnership was the most pleasing part of the night.
“The young players who came on all did well and Oliver Sail, who was deputising for the injured Glen Moss, did particularly well with two tremendous one-on-one saves.
“He is impressing as an outstanding young goalkeeper and players like Sarpreet Singh, Jack-Henry Sinclair and Logan Rogerson showed that if they get the chance to represent New Zealand with the under 20s they will do well.”