Victory vanquish Phoenix


Melbourne Victory posted their first win of the 2011-12 Hyundai A-League season on Sunday with a gritty 2-1 victory over Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

Melbourne Victory posted their first win of the 2011-12 Hyundai A-League season on Sunday with a gritty 2-1 victory over Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

Victory soaked up plenty of first-half pressure from the home side, but an Archie Thompson goal just before half-time put them ahead and Carlos Hernandez made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after Ben Sigmund was sent off for a last-man challenge.

Although Dani Sanchez pulled one back for the 10-man Phoenix, Victory were good enough to hold on for all three points.

After a cautious start from both teams, Phoenix had the first good opportunity of the match through Sanchez 10 minutes in when he dispossessed Hernandez, but the striker’s shot flew just wide of the upright.

Leo Bertos forced a save from Victory goalkeeper Ante Covic moments later after a strong run, and Brazilian winger Daniel almost played in Bertos again with a great cross but the midfielder could not get a decisive touch.

Phoenix should have been ahead after 16 minutes when Tony Lochhead found Sanchez with a cross, but the Spaniard’s header flew wide of the post, and eight minutes later Tim Brown blazed a shot over the bar after another great Lochhead delivery.

Brown forced a fantastic save from Covic in the 33rd minute with a long-range header following yet another Lochhead cross from the left, while at the other end Sigmund had to be quick to tackle Jean Carlos Solorzano after an incisive ball from Harry Kewell.

Sanchez wasn’t far away with an audacious attempt to chip Covic while steaming into the box at full speed, but Victory made Wellington pay for not taking their chances four minutes before the interval.

Thompson brilliantly nutmegged Nik Tsattalios inside the penalty area before firing a clinical shot past Tony Warner in the Phoenix goal.

It could have been 2-0 in first-half stoppage time, but Hernandez’s cross somehow managed to evade Solorzano and Thompson in the box.

Covic did well to intervene after Chris Greenacre’s close-range effort hit the post at the start of the second half, and the big man was visibly upset when Daniel tried to bundle the ball into the net while he had his hand on it.

Victory started to take control in the middle, with Kewell forcing a good save from Warner on the hour mark with a stinging volley after a Thompson cross.

Tom Pondeljak made way for Marco Rojas and the game turned in the 66th minute when a neat one-two between Thompson and Hernandez saw the Victory striker bearing down on goal before being hauled down by Sigmund.

The Phoenix defender was given his marching orders by referee Peter Green, and Hernandez slotted home the penalty to put Victory 2-0 up.

Phoenix pulled a goal back three minutes later when a corner spilled to Sanchez on the edge of the box and the striker lashed his shot past Covic to give the local supporters some cheer.

Thompson should have had his second in the 73rd minute when he fired home after a wonderful Kewell through ball, but the linesman flagged for offside against Rojas who was not involved in the play.

Phoenix closed the match out full of run, but Victory stood firm at the back to hold on and claim their first win of the campaign.

Wellington Phoenix 1 (Sanchez 71)
Melbourne Victory 2 (Thompson 42, Hernandez 68 pen)
Crowd: TBC at Westpac Stadium