Hemed nets dramatic late penalty as Phoenix come back to beat Adelaide
Tomer Hemed’s 97th-minute penalty clinched a thrilling 2-1 win as Wellington Phoenix denied Adelaide United the chance to climb to the top of the A-League ladder in a breathless contest on ANZAC Day.
The Israel international kept a composed head to convert from 12 yards deep into stoppage time while chaos was ensuring around him after goalkeeper Joe Gauci was penalised for knocking over Phoenix substitute Jaushua Sotirio during a goalmouth scramble.
Teenage attacker Ben Waine struck for the fourth straight A-League game – becoming the fourth player in Wellington Phoenix history to do so – seven minutes after Adelaide captain Stefan Mauk had fired the Reds ahead in the 51st minute at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.
The in-form Waine almost netted in the second minute when his header crashed back off the crossbar, as Adelaide forward Craig Goodwin and Phoenix playmaker Ulises Davila threatened to opening the scoring in a cagey first half, before the game burst into life after the interval.
Oliver Sail made a pair of terrific saves to deny Ben Halloran and Goodwin, but the Phoenix gloveman could do nothing to stop Mauk sweeping in the opener, and the hosts were hanging in the game when Waine gathered up a loose ball from Davila’s lofted pass and wrote his name into the Phoenix record books alongside Jeremy Brockie, Roy Krishna and Davila in the 57th minute.
Opportunities fell to both sides in a frenetic finish with Sail saving from Ryan Strain and Gauci stopping Waine from grabbing a second, while Hemed, Sotirio, Halloran and Al-Hassan Toure all came close in stoppage time. A last-gasp launched ball into the box forced the error from 20-year-old keeper Gauci and Hemed kept his cool to send Phoenix into sixth place and leave Adelaide two points off the top in third.
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Following a moving pre-match ANZAC Day ceremony, the Kiwi outfit made a fast start with Ben Waine coming agonisingly close to a scoring in a fourth straight game when he headed Ulises Davila’s delivery back off the crossbar in the second minute. Craig Goodwin saw a strike blocked as the Reds responded, before Phoenix launched another quick counter and James McGarry hooked over from Waine's cross.
While the South Australians were controlling the greater share of possession, Wellington were causing the away side problems as Davila collected Waine’s flick and forced goalkeeper Joe Gauci into a last-ditch block on the quarter hour, before Louis Fenton’s rebound was deflected wide. Goodwin again led the reply, stinging the palms of 'Nix gloveman Oliver Sail in the 26th minute with a rocket shot from a tight angle.
A tightly-contested first half drew to a tepid close, but Carl Veart’s side cranked up the tempo three minutes after the break with Josh Caballo’s strike deflecting off Tim Payne’s last-ditch bock as Tomi Juric could not turn the loose ball. A moment later, Ben Halloran’s rifled long-range effort was spilled by Sail and Goodwin’s rebound from eight yards was once again charged down by Payne.
Adelaide were buzzing and they made the breakthrough following a flow move, started by Mauk's exquisite turn. After slick passes by Juric and Ryan Strain, the Reds captain swept the ball past Sail to net his sixth goal of the season in the 51st minute, and the away side continued to dial up the pressure two minutes later with Goodwin forcing a terrific save from Sail and Louis D'Arrigo missing the rebound with an air shot.
Phoenix were living dangerously once again in the 56th minute when Mauk's precise reverse pass released Halloran and his drilled effort was parried away from goal by Sail. After escaping wave after wave of Adelaide attacks, Davila's searching pass found Tomer Hemed, who tussled with George Timotheou. The loose ball fell to Waine and the teenager finished calmly into an empty net after riding Gauci's challenge.
Waine's equaliser set up a frantic last quarter of an hour with Sail pushing Ryan Strain's strike away as Josh Cavallo drilled over the rebound and Gauci palmed Waine's snaphot past the post. Toure and Hemed both flashed efforts narrowly off target as the clock ticked past 90, as Halloran's rocket deflected over and Sotirio's shot was held by Gauci. However, the Reds keeper could not reach a bouncing ball in the 95th minute as Sotirio went down under his challenge and Hemed struck to lift Phoenix into finals contention.
Next fixtures – Matchweek 19
Adelaide United v Western United
Friday, 30 April 2021
Venue: Coopers Stadium
Kick-off: 7.35pm AEST
Brisbane Roar v Wellington Phoenix
Saturday, 1 May 2021
Venue: Moreton Daily Stadium
Kick-off: 5.05pm AEST
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