Krishna masterclass leads Phoenix to shock win over Premiers Sydney FC
A devastating display of finishing from Roy Krishna led Wellington Phoenix to deliver the upset of the season so far in a 3-1 win against reigning Hyundai A-League Premiers Sydney FC.
Krishna capped a sensational week, where he became the Phoenix’s all-time leading scorer and gained New Zealand citizenship, by netting twice in nine first-half minutes to stun the Sky Blues at Jubilee Oval.
With the home team reeling, Steven Taylor scored with a towering header to give former Sydney FC captain, and now Phoenix manager, Mark Rudan’s team a three-goal advantage on 38 minutes.
Rudan’s former teammate in Sky Blue, Steve Corica, sent on Dutch marquee man Siem de Jong at half-time as he attempted to change the game but Michael Zullo’s late consolation goal was in vain.
The warning signs had emerged in the opening exchanges when Sarpreet Singh, Mandi and Krishna all gave Sydney FC shot-stopper Andrew Redmayne a workout in the first five minutes.
The home side showed signs of life on 13 minutes when Adam Le Fondre missed a golden chance to open the scoring when he steered Paulo Retre’s shot over the crossbar from close range.
The floodgates opened when Singh’s exquisite pass in between Jop van der Linden and Zullo sent Krishna through on goal and the Fijian-born striker netted his 35th for Phoenix, and first as a Kiwi citizen, on 21 minutes.
Lightning struck twice on the half hour when Krishna collected Mandi’s through ball between the same pair of defenders. This time the 31-year old brushed off Zullo’s challenge and added another ice-cold finish.
The Sky Blues defence was caught high up the field twice, but there was little they could do as Taylor made it three. After a Phoenix corner had broken down, a sensational cross from Liberato Cacace was met by centre-back Taylor in a manner often seen by a clinical centre forward.
Taylor brushed off van der Linden’s challenge to plant a head over the stranded Redmayne as a shudder descended on Jubilee Oval, the scene of Sydney’s 2-1 defeat by Melbourne Victory two weeks ago.
An Andrew Durante own goal was ruled out due to Alex Brosque being in an offside position, and Taylor hacked Brosque’s low drive away from the goal-line as Sydney’s hopes continued to fade.
De Jong was introduced and the Sky Blues continued to force the issue. Krishna limped off on the hour as Phoenix sank deeper. But for all the hosts’ pressure, Nix goalkeeper Oliver Sail, standing in for the concussed Filip Kurto, had little to trouble him until the dying embers of the game.
Sail smothered at Le Fondre’s feet on 89 minutes and Zullo volleyed in from the resulting scramble to ensure the Premiers had not fired a blank, but that did little to prevent Phoenix from celebrating a memorable victory.