The Wellington Phoenix have picked up their second straight win of the season tonight, and their first away victory – beating the red-hot Adelaide United 2-1 to continue their strong run over the past three matches. The win put an end to Adelaide’s four match winning streak and breaks a spell of 11 straight losses to Adelaide prior to this game, dating all the way back to November 2015.
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At the start of the match, both teams paid tribute to former Socceroo’s coach Pim Verbeek, with a minute’s silence observed at Cooper Stadium and both players and coaches wearing black armbands.
The Phoenix wasted no time in pressing the attack, with Reno Piscopo attempting a header inside the box thanks to a beautiful setup from Jaushua Sotirio – less than a minute into the game. A fortunate save from Adelaide’s Goalkeeper, Paul Izzo, prevented it from being the fastest goal scored in the Hyundai A-League this season.
Although the Reds had more possession in the Phoenix’s half in the opening 20 minutes, their sloppy passing prevented them from making anything meaningful from it. A dangerous ball into the Phoenix box eight minutes was turned away by defender Luke DeVere, and soon after an attempt was easily broken by Captain Steven Taylor. Alex Rufer was also at his disruptive best early on, helping set a defensive tone for the away team to counter the likes of Riley McGree and his noted goal-scoring ability.
Adelaide’s first real attempt at goal, a header attempt by Michaël Maria, was saved by Wellington’s human highlight-reel, Stefan Marinovic. That put the Phoenix back on attack, with a solid setup from Tim Payne to Sotirio for a header attempt that sailed over the top of goal.
At 29 minutes, a clumsy challenge from Michael Jakobsen from just outside the box against Sotirio, gave Phoenix a free kick at 30 minutes – but Ulises’s Davila’s attempt sailed over the bar.
A beautiful attacking sequence by the Phoenix saw them stringing together a dozen crisp passes in the Red’s half, ending up in an unsuccessful David Ball attempt. Shortly after a dazzling run by Sotirio was extremely unlucky to not end in a goal, with Izzo making an amazing save.
Two more attempts at goal by the Phoenix just before half-time; the first by an aggressive Ball who released a shot inside the Adelaide box that was scooped up by Izzo, and a second by Davila who saw his shot blocked.
Half-time saw neither team on the scoreboard, with even possession from both teams but with Phoenix dominating the shots on target with 9 to Adelaide’s 4. The away team was no doubt heartened by their numerous quality attempts at goal, as well as the strong first-half play of Piscopo, Sotirio, Ball and Rufer. Credit should also go to the Adelaide defence, with 5 blocks to Phoenix’s 2 and strong play by their goalkeeper Izzo to deny at least two certain goals.
The second half started in the same fashion as the first; this time with Davila attempting a goal for the Phoenix following a drive by Ball in the first minute, with the shot sailing over the bar.
Then at 57 minutes, the home side struck, with Nikola Mileusnic volleying in a spectacular goal; a looping shot over the outstretched Marinovic to put the home side up 1-0.
Despite this, Wellington dominated possession in the first 15 minutes of the second half (83% to 17%), with the majority of possession in the Red’s half. The highlight of this was a pair of shots on goal from the always-dangerous Davila, neither of which could connect with the back of the net. The period was also noteworthy for the substitution of Matti Steinmann for Gary Hooper, bringing in additional firepower for the Phoenix in an effort to equalise.
Their efforts were finally rewarded at 67 minutes with David Ball sinking a well-deserved equaliser for the Phoenix; his first goal in the Hyundai A-League.
A few minutes later, a foul on Liberato Cacace by Blackwood inside the box set up a penalty kick for Davila – which was promptly converted to put the visiting Phoenix up 2-1 in the 71st minute. It was Davila’s fifth goal of the season and his third penalty.
Soon after the howling rain set in, causing havoc for both teams and their quality of shot attempts – with both sides having several attempts at goal that went astray. The Phoenix must be credited for their play during this period; both their continuing attacking, coupled with their defensive prowess in denying Adelaide the equaliser they were desperate for.
A last-minute opportunity by the Reds came off of a foul by Steven Taylor, setting Adelaide up for a free kick. But the attempt landed in the hands of Marinovic, and as the whistle sounded the Wellington Phoenix had come away with a well-deserved win against a quality side on their home ground.
Coach Ufuk Talay said that the effort that his side put out tonight was exceptional.
“I think the way we set up, the way we play is very promising – it takes time for players to gel and it’s all coming to fruition now. We came in here with our game plan of getting the three points, and the boys executed that plan.”
The Wellington Phoenix now return home to New Zealand, heading to Auckland’s Eden Park to take on take on Western Sydney Wanderers, 7pm on Saturday 7th December 2019.
Wellington Phoenix Starting XI
1. Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 3. Luke DEVERE, 5. Matti STEINMANN, 6. Tim Payne, 7. Reno PISCOPO, 9. David BALL, 10. Ulises DAVILA, 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO, 13. Liberato CACACE, 14. Alex RUFER, 27. Steven TAYLOR (c)
Adelaide United Starting XI
2.Michael MARRONE, 4.Ryan STRAIN, 5.Michaël MARIA, 8.Riley McGREE, 10.James TROISI, , 17.Nikola MILEUSNIĆ, 20.Paul IZZO (gk), 22.Michael JAKOBSEN (c), 26.Ben HALLORAN, 27.Louis D’ARRIGO, 35.Al Hassan TOURE
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
66’ ON 88. Gary HOOPER OFF 5. Matti STEINMANN
71’ ON 8.Cameron DEVLIN OFF 7. Reno PISCOPO
83’ 21.Callum MCCOWATT OFF 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO
Adelaide United Substitutions
46’ ON 14.George BLACKWOOD OFF 26.Ben HALLORAN
46’ ON 11.Kristian OPSETH OFF 35.Al Hassan TOURE
77’ ON 7.Ryan KITTO OFF 8.Riley McGREE
57’ 17. Nikola MILEUSNIĆ (Adelaide United)
67’ 9. David BALL (Wellington Phoenix)
71’ 10. Ulises DAVILA (Wellington Phoenix)
Next Match details
Round 9 – Wellington Phoenix versus Western Sydney Wanderers at Eden Park, Auckland; Saturday 7th December 2019, 7pm NZT