Return to form stuns Phoenix


Melbourne Victory have cruised to a 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon to climb to fifth on the Hyundai A-League table.

Melbourne Victory have cruised to a 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon to climb to fifth on the Hyundai A-League table.

Eighth coming into the game, Mehmet Durakovic’s men put Phoenix to the sword in front of 14,023 fans with three first-half goals in 21 minutes and in the process moved to 15 points and ahead of their opponents on goal difference.

Archie Thompson started the rout with his fifth goal of the campaign in the fourth minute before Vince Lia (22nd minute) conceded the unluckiest of own goals and then Diogo Ferreira (25th) made it 3-0.

Wellington did enjoy their best spell of the game in the final half an hour, which coincided with the send-off of Billy Celeski in the 78th minute, but Alex Smith’s 85th-minute consolation was all they had to show for it in their third game in eight days.

They were fortunate not to be further behind at the break, with Thompson having three other good chances to score in the opening 45 minutes, and could easily have been further down as their defence was all at sea for the first 15 minutes after the resumption too.

The hosts picked up three yellow cards in the opening 45 minutes as well, with Harry Kewell cautioned for simulation just before the quarter-hour mark and then Celeski and Leigh Broxham also going into referee Matt Gillett’s book.

Phoenix did have a couple of chances of their own before half-time, Tim Brown and Smith both having free headers they were unable to direct on target, but their greater intensity in the closing stages was rewarded through Smith.

Things began superbly for Victory when Carlos Hernandez played in Thompson and he pushed it wide left to Celeski who crossed into the area for Thompson to glance his header into the bottom right corner off the inside of the post.

Victory continued to make the running and were rewarded with a second goal, although there was plenty of good fortune involved, with Hernandez smashing the ball from the edge of the box only for it to deflect straight off Lia into the right corner with keeper Tony Warner stranded.

Three minutes later and Victory were in again through Ferreira, with two defensive headers from the Phoenix not clearing the area, the second from Ben Sigmund bouncing up for Ferreira who half-volleyed it brilliantly from the edge of the box.

Thompson also pulled one shot narrowly to the left with his right boot, curled another just side of Warner’s left post with his left foot and then having a third effort saved by Warner, with the ball just looping over the bar.

In the second half star recruit Kewell was unable to score his first goal for the club from open play but not for want of trying, with his frustration building as four chances in six minutes went begging.

Celeski’s yellow card also came back to haunt him with a dozen minutes remaining when he picked up a second and was sent for an early shower.

Having wasted plenty of chances too, the Phoenix finally scored with minutes remaining when Smith ran onto the ball, turned Fabio inside out and with the outside of his right foot put the ball into the left corner beyond the despairing dive of Ante Covic.

Melbourne Victory 3 (Thompson 4, Lia (og) 22, Ferreira 25)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Smith 85)