Wellington Phoenix found a remarkable third straight win and climbed the A-League table in the process as they defeated Western Sydney Wanderers by their favourite 2-1 scoreline.
The first half of this affair was uninspiring, Wanderers dominated proceedings with little penetration, but the tie exploded into life in the second 45 minutes.
Entirely against the run of play, Jaushua Sotirio opened the scoring for the home side, latching onto a flick by David Ball to cutely lob the advancing Daniel Lopar.
The crowd inside Eden Park in Auckland - a successful venue for the men in yellow - were taken by surprise given their side’s lacklustre earlier display.
Nicolai Muller squared things up shortly after, running onto a nice through ball to hit it first time past the stretching Stefan Marinovic.
The game fizzled out afterwards until the dying minutes when contoversery arrived.
Ulises Davila’s shot from the edge of the box hit an outstretched hand and after a VAR check the referee pointed for a penalty.
After strong protests by the Wanderers players, Davila kept calm to score his second penalty in consecutive weeks. There was precious little time for Wanderers to recover and Phoenix secured the victory to rise above their opponents in the table and take fourth spot.
Given their struggles early in the season, Phoenix are testament to the A-League’s value for entertainment; there cannot be many leagues in the world this precarious and unpredictable.
Stefan Marinovic - 7
Muller gave him no chance with his equaliser but the goalkeeper did make some decent stops throughout.
Tim Payne - 6
Payne has coped admirably when filling in at right back and today was no different.
Steven Taylor - 7
Phoenix’s captain threw himself at everything in his customarily brave way, a diving header here, a last-ditch block there.
Luke DeVere - 6.5
The centre back is developing a growing partnership with Taylor beside him. Coped well with Muller and Yeboah.
Liberato Cacace - 6.5
Didn’t get in behind the Wanderers defence as much as he would have liked but always offered his services on the left.
Alex Rufer - 5
Unfortunately had to be removed early for an injury.