Classic clash: Santa the star in ‘six-pointer’
Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix met in round 23 of the Hyundai A-League 2016/17 season at Spotless Stadium.
Going into the game, Wanderers occupied the last finals spot, but the Phoenix were just two points back, knowing a win would take them into the top six for the first time in two months.
NICO’S NEAT FINISH
In just the ninth minute, Nico Martinez opened the scoring, side-footing a precise strike with his less-favoured right foot past the despairing dive of Glen Moss and into the bottom corner.
It was the fourth goal of an impressive season from the Argentine playmaker and his second in successive matches against Wellington.
SANTA GOES BANG-BANG
Brendon Santalab had developed a liking for playing Wellington, having found the net five times in his last three games against them and he added another brace in this match.
Six minutes before half-time, ‘Santa’ hit double figures for the season with a left-footed effort from inside the penalty arc.
The crowd had hardly settled into their seats after the break when Santalab had a double, heading home a lobbed cross from Martinez from close range to all but decide the contest.
FINKLER’S CONSOLATION FREE-KICK
Phoenix fans had been waiting all season for Gui Finkler to produce the sort of set-piece goal he conjured regularly in Melbourne Victory colours.
It came with fifteen minutes to go as the Brazilian curled a direct free-kick over the wall and past the dive of Vedran Janjetovic.
But it was too little, too late for Wellington.
Relive all the action from the match in the video at the top.
Western Sydney went unbeaten for the rest of the regular season to nab sixth spot, before losing to Brisbane Roar on penalties in week one of the Finals Series.
Wellington lost just one of their last four games, but were unable to close the gap on the top six and eventually finished seventh to miss the finals for the second successive season.