Mandi nets stunner as Phoenix cruise past Wanderers
A blistering first half performance saw Wellington Phoenix bolster their top-four position with a convincing 3-1 victory over Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday afternoon.
Having rifled eight past Central Coast Mariners in Round 21’s Hyundai A-League trouncing, Mark Rudan’s side were in top gear in the New Zealand capital and blew the Wanderers away with a lethal 21-minute spell which saw Roy Krishna, Mandi and David Williams all on target.
Wanderers attacker Mitch Duke netted a late consolation with a glancing header from Oriol Riera's cross but it failed to prevent a first defeat since February 1st's 5-1 loss to Newcastle Jets for the the visitors.
A good night for the Phoenix was soured in injury time when Krishna picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Raul Llorente.
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The in-form Wanderers were searching for three straight away wins for the first time since November 2015 but Krishna deflated their optimism by seizing on Tate Russell’s errant pass on halfway before streaking into the clear and curling in his 15th goal of the season past Vedran Janjetovic at the far post.
Russell’s was an error symbolic of a sloppy, disjointed start to the match from Markus Babbel’s side and the visitors were punished again when Mandi caressed a gorgeous free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards which left Janjetovic rooted to the spot.
And the veteran gloveman was left with no chance again as Williams buried an emphatic curling effort – his eighth of the campaign - after some sensational build up play involving the excellent Max Burgess, Mandi and Krishna.
Liberato Cacace spurned a wonderful chance to continue the rout early in the second half however the Phoenix starlet volleyed Mandi’s free-kick delivery over the bar from underneath the post.
Rudan’s side were firmly in cruise control but suffered a minor scare when referee Alex King awarded the Wanderers a penalty as Video Assistant Referee adjudged Max Burgess to have fouled Bruce Kamau inside the area.
Alexander Baumjohann stepped up but rolled the spot-kick wide of Kurto’s post, compounding a miserable evening for the Red and Black despite Duke's excellent late header.