Keisuke Honda was back on the scoresheet as Melbourne Victory played out a 1-1 draw with Wellington Phoenix in the Hyundai A-League on Friday.
In just his second game back from injury, Honda struck from the penalty spot to cancel out Roy Krishna’s opener at Eden Park in Auckland.
But Victory was left to rue missed chances as it squandered numerous opportunities to claim all three points, leaving it in second on the table.
Both teams started brightly and Victory created a great chance in just the eighth minute.
Elvis Kamsoba’s well-weighted pass put Kenny Athiu through, but the striker was denied by Phoenix goalkeeper Filip Kurto in a one-on-one.
Kamsoba was particularly dangerous throughout the first half, while Kosta Barbarouses fired wide on the turn after a cushioned header from Georg Niedermeier in the 17th minute.
Victory continued to search for a breakthrough and James Troisi was the next to test Kurto, the attacker’s shot from an angle pushed away after a pass from Barbarouses in the area approaching the half-hour mark.
The visitor was forced to scramble defensively on numerous occasions, while Kamsoba curled a strike wide from 25 yards before the break.
Victory went close again in the 52nd minute, Athiu’s deflected strike from inside the area after a pass from Kamsoba superbly saved by Kurto.
Instead, Wellington took the lead through Krishna, who volleyed in from close range after a cross fell to him inside the area.
Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas produced a brilliant low save to deny Krishna a second on the counter-attack in the 61st minute.
The visitor was awarded a penalty soon after as Leigh Broxham was brought down as he burst into the area, Honda stepping up to put away his sixth goal of the season.
Victory almost took the lead in the 71st minute, Kamsoba picking out Athiu after a driving run, but the striker’s flick hit the outside of the post.
Athiu and Kamsoba continued to combine well and the former was denied in a one-on-one by Kurto again after a pass from the winger.
Barbarouses forced Kurto into another save in the 82nd minute as Victory continued to push, but it was unable to find a winner.
Player in focus
What they said – Honda
on the result…
“We wanted to get the three points. Also, they had a chance to win against us so maybe we deserved to tie the game. They also created a lot of chances against us. We are not satisfied of course, but we have to accept this result.”
on his fitness…
“I’m ready. Today Kevin (Muscat, head coach) gave me the rest so I knew that I would play just 40 minutes, but I’m getting better and I think I will be OK for next game.”
Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Round 19
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Roy Krishna 57′)
Melbourne Victory 1 (Keisuke Honda 67′ pen)
Wellington Phoenix: Kurto (gk); Taylor, Durante (c), Kopczynski; Fenton, Rufer, Mandi (Burgess 88′), Cacace; Krishna, Singh, Williams (Sheridan 78′).
Melbourne Victory: Thomas (gk); Roux, Deng, Niedermeier (Donachie 55′), Broxham (c); Lesiotis (Honda 55′); Baena, Troisi, Kamsoba; Barbarouses, Athiu.
Yellow cards: Barbarouses 32′, Rufer 51′, Donachie 73′, Roux 79′
Red cards: Nil
Venue: Eden Park
Victory hosts City in a massive Derby clash at Marvel Stadium on Saturday, February 23.