Herbert hails All Whites

Ricki Herbert was quick to praise the contribution made by his international players after Wellington Phoenix won a thrilling Hyundai A-League minor semi-final against Newcastle Jets 3-1 in extra time.

Ricki Herbert was quick to praise the contribution made by his international players after Wellington Phoenix won a thrilling Hyundai A-League minor semi-final against Newcastle Jets 3-1 in extra time.

Skipper Andrew Durante was away with the Socceroos in the build-up to Sunday's game while Leo Bertos, Tim Brown, Tony Lochhead and Ben Sigmund were with Herbert in Los Angeles for New Zealand's World Cup warm-up match against Mexico.

The All Whites contingent did not return to Wellington until Saturday morning but all bar Bertos, who was replaced by Daniel in the 66th minute, played the 120 minutes with Brown in particular getting through a mountain of work.

"They were outstanding," said Herbert. "I'm delighted but internally we had no doubt."

"There is just such an application from these boys. They are not going to disappoint. I don't think any of them tired."

"I'd hate to track the distance Tim Brown ran today. It's just a phenomenal performance."

Durante, who was on the Socceroos bench but never took the field against Indonesia, said the camaraderie built during the season got the players through extra time for the second successive finals match.

"I just told the boys, 'no matter what you're feeling you've just got to do that extra tackle, that extra hard yard and even when you think you can't do it anymore you've got to dig deep and do it and don't let your team-mates down'," said the skipper.

"It could have been so easy for the Kiwi boys to say, 'I've had a hard week', but they didn't make excuses."

"They never once said, ''Duro' I'm a bit tired, cover'. They did what they had to do and it was magic."

"It rubs off throughout the whole team and we've got a really good team and there's no reason why we can't go all the way."

Brown's 33rd-minute strike cancelled out Jets captain Matt Thompson's opener but both sides had plenty of chances after that to seal the win in regulation time with Paul Ifill missing a golden chance with seconds left on the clock.

In the end it was not that costly as he struck midway through extra-time to put the Phoenix in front to the delight of the record 32,792-strong crowd before Eugene Dadi killed off any hopes the Jets had with a tap-in five minutes from time.

It was not the way Thompson wanted to finish his career at Newcastle.

Thompson, who will play for the new Hyundai A-League franchise Melbourne Heart next season, was unable to finish the match and was replaced in the 85th minute by Sasho Petrovski.

"It's terrible. I hate it. The fact that I couldn't finish the game is more disappointing than anything," said the Jets skipper who also missed two other gilt-edged chances after his 20th-minute effort.

"I wanted to do the best I could for the team today. Scoring the first one is (one thing) I could have had a hat-trick, simple as that. We should have won that game in the first half really."

But despite the disappointment of defeat Thompson was full of praise for the team's efforts over what has been something of a rollercoaster season.

"(Everyone's) obviously a bit down but at the same time we know that we've come from behind all year. It's been a great year."

"Everyone wrote us off at the start of the year and we didn't start off great but we had a great middle run then went into the semis with not great form but it was a great effort last week and a top effort today."

"It's a frustrating thing to go out like we did but at the same time it was a great effort by the boys, not only today but over the whole 29 games."