A sparkling Wellington Phoenix has overrun one of the league favourites at Westpac Stadium to notch back-to-back wins.
Goals to Roly Bonevacia, Jacob Tratt and Kosta Barbarouses proved the difference as in impressive Wellington Phoenix finished stronger than one of the form sides of the A-League, running out 3-0 victors.
Bonevacia, starting ahead of Victory old boy Gui Finker, backed up his glittering display against the Mariners and rewarded coaches Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre for their faith in him with his first A-League goal of the season.
Phoenix started the brighter and it took Barbarouses just 36 seconds to worry his old side, firing in a stinging shot after some sublime shoulder control, that Lawrence Thomas just managed to tip round the post.
In the 11th minute, after a quick transition Roy Krishna found himself running at pace, but retreating Victory defenders managed to crowd out the Fijian flyer.
Krishna then turned provider, picking out Barbarouses with a lovely switch of play, but Leigh Broxham recovered well to block the shot.
In the 28th minute Nick Ansell then almost embarrassed his own ‘keeper as his sliced clearance from Bonevacia’s well-worked cross arched agonisingly wide of the post.
Wellington got the reward for their early dominance in the 32nd minute when Dutch youth international Bonevacia slid in to tuck home Krishna’s drilled cross.
Victory skipper Carl Valeri was fortunate to escape censure after bringing down Bonevacia after miscontrolling, but Kris Griffiths-Jones elected to keep his cards in his pocket.
Some lovely work from Shane Smeltz just before half time found Bonevacia free inside the area, but his shot on the turn was well smothered by Thomas, as Phoenix took a solitary goal lead into the break.
In the second half it was again Phoenix making the early running, before Marco Rojas, returning to Westpac Stadium to face his old club, ran ominously at the defence, drawing a decent save from Glen Moss.
Krishna then had a sighter in the 54th minute from outside the area and whistled a driven effort just to the right of Thomas’s post.
Moss then produced one of the saves of the season after a well-worked Victory freekick. Broxham hit a dipping first time volley but the Wellington custodian leapt brilliantly to palm clear.
Besart Berisha then had the ball in the net, but was rightly adjudged several metres offside, before James Troisi lofted a freekick harmlessly high.
In the 79th minute Phoenix then laid siege to the Melbourne goal, winning a series of corners as they pushed for a second goal.
With seven minutes of regular time left Wellington then peppered the goal, with Alex Rodriguez with a curling follow-up, following a goal-mouth scramble.
But Phoenix did their best talking late, as first Tratt then Barbarouses both found the net in extra time to delight the home faithful who braved the wind to cheer on their side.
Post-game Head Coach Des Buckingham was proud of his team’s efforts, but not getting carried away, with the Phoenix’s next game on Saturday against Brisbane.
“We’ve created more chances and opportunities on goal than any other team in the league. What has cost us is the conversion of those chances and we’ve done that tonight so that’s pleasing, but the defensive setup has allowed us to do that. It’s really pleasing to be able to defend well and attack well,” said Buckingham.
“The last five or six weeks we’ve implemented a game plan and the players have hugely bought into it – the key combination of two holding midfielders with what is now a steady back four, so we’re starting to get some consistency.”
“We won’t get carried away with this result. It was a good performance and we’re pleased with the win, but we’ve got a long way to go – we’ve still got half a season.”
Next Phoenix take on Brisbane Roar at Westpac Stadium this Saturday 21 January, kick-off 7.35pm as they look to consolidate their place in the six. Get your tickets, here.