Wellington Phoenix were arguably the better side in their Hyundai A-League Elimination Final against Melbourne Victory but it wasn’t their night as they lost against the star-studded side, losing 3-1 at AAMI Park on Friday night.
Rudan's side started off the more confident with Hyundai A-League Golden Boot winner, Roy Krishna, looking to pounce at every opportunity. In the first ten minutes, 18-goal striker controlling the ball inside the home box before laying it off for David Williams. Williams’ resulting shot was then deflected out for a corner but not before calls for handball were waved away by the referee.
Spanish midfielder, Mandi Sosa enjoyed a half-chance moments later, only for his free-kick to be headed clear by the Victory wall.
Wellington Phoenix dominated possession throughout the game as Melbourne Victory looked to sit deep and deny Krishna and Williams space in behind.
Despite resistance from the current Champions, Ryan Lowry enjoyed a great chance to take the lead after a promising Krishna move in behind. The striker then squared to Williams before he laid it off for the onrushing Lowry but unfortunately, his shot was wide of Thomas’s post and into the side netting.
Wellington Phoenix's momentum continued to grow as they pressed further up and pressured the Victory backline, before enjoying another half chance. This time, Mandi with a sight on goal, picked up a deflection just outside the Victory box. However, his effort was dragged wide of the post and out for a goal kick.
Mark Rudan’s side were dominant throughout the knockout fixture and unfortunate to concede the first goal.
Williams will feel unlucky to have conceded a somewhat soft free-kick inside his own half which led to Honda’s set piece. The marquee signing’s lofted ball was nodded in from center-half, Georg Niedermeier to give his side the lead. It ended 1-0 to the home side at the break.
Into the second half and Wellington Phoenix remained confident and patient in their build-up with Victory looking to break on the counter.
The home side remained calm under the pressure before they doubled their lead through a counter-attack, after Mandi’s poor back pass allowed Ola Toivonen to pounce. The Swede took the opportunity in his stride, sliding the ball in for Kosta Barbarouses. The former Wellington Phoenix attacker then doubled the lead, slipping in beyond Filip Kurto.
Rudan looked for a spark off the bench and found it in Sarpreet Singh who was brought into action in place of Mandi, as the dynamic midfielder instantly made an impact.
The attacking line of Wellington Phoenix continued to create chances as a shot from Williams was blocked.
Hope was restored in the 64th minute when substitute, Singh produced a brilliant cross for Krishna to finish beyond Thomas in the Victory goal.
Wellington Phoenix pressured the Victory team to sit deep inside their own half, but heartbreak hit as the home side scored to regain the two-goal deficit. A ball in behind deflected off Michal Kopczyński into the path of Toivonen who drove toward the goal and chipped over Kurto.
Despite pushing hard to get back into the game, Melbourne Victory remained solid at the back and kept the 3-1 lead to take the win.
Full Highlights here.
1. Filip KURTO, 4. Mandi SOSA, 5. Ryan LOWRY, 11. David WILLIAMS, 13. Liberato CACACE,14. Alex RUFER, 15. Michal KOPCZYNSKI, 21. Roy KRISHNA, 22. Andrew DURANTE, 23. Max Burgess, 27. Steven TAYLOR
Wellington Phoenix Substitutions
57’ OFF 4. Mandi SOSA ON 18. Sarpreet SINGH
77’ OFF 11. David WILLIAMS ON 7. Cillian SHERIDAN
90’ OFF 5. Ryan LOWRY ON 17. Callan ELLIOT
Melbourne Victory Substitutions
85’ OFF 15. Raul BAENA ON 21. Carl VALERI
95+ OFF 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES ON 2. Storm ROUX
96+ OFF 24. Elvis KAMSOSBA ON 7. Kenjok ATHIU