Phoenix edge out Glory

A superb free-kick from midfielder Leo Bertos has earned Wellington a 2-1 win in an entertaining Hyundai A-League match against Perth at a rain-soaked Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Sunday afternoon.

A superb free-kick from midfielder Leo Bertos has earned Wellington a 2-1 win in an entertaining Hyundai A-League match against Perth at a rain-soaked Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Sunday afternoon.

With the match seemingly heading for a draw, Bertos was brought down by Adriano Pellegrino, who was shown a yellow card, about 35 metres out and he rifled the ball through the defence and past a diving Tando Velaphi to seal victory with around five minutes remaining.

In front of a crowd of 10,024 the two sides created plenty of chances with Perth denied twice by the woodwork in the second half and both goalkeepers Mark Paston and Velaphi kept busy throughout the match.

There was plenty of free-flowing football on show, particularly in the second stanza as each team pressed forward in search of the winner after the first half ended 1-1.

The Glory got off to the perfect start with a goal inside the first four minutes. Michael Ferrante, who had been booked just two minutes earlier for a foul on Victor Sikora, was dispossessed by Sikora, who slotted home past a diving Paston.

New Phoenix striker Paul Ifill came close to leveling the score just a few minutes later when he collected a cross from the right in space but his powerful shot was parried away by Velaphi and the visitors cleared the danger.

Manny Muscat was next into referee Peter O'Leary's book for a foul on Glory striker Mile Sterjovski but Pellegrino's free-kick went narrowly wide.

That seemed to galvanise the Phoenix who began to dominate possession and pressed forward regularly with Bertos a constant danger down the right flank against his former team-mates, although he didn't trouble the keeper.

It was another determined run from Bertos that brought about the Phoenix's equaliser in the 24th minute with the midfielder firing the ball into the box and Ifill heading home from six yards out.

The Phoenix continued to press hard and Ifill, who had a busy afternoon, forced another save from Velaphi with a strong, low drive from the edge of the box.

Chances were few and far between for the remainder of the half with Paston called into action once to make a comfortable save from an attempt by Glory substitute Andrija Jukic, on for Chris Coyne, before Muscat cleared another Perth effort off the line after Andrew Durante had fired a header straight at Velaphi at the other end.

The Glory keeper was put to work early in the second half, making a good save under pressure from Ifill after another accurate cross from Bertos.

But it was Perth who had the better of the chances with Jukic firing over then Sterjovski's header hitting the woodwork after a good cross from the left from Jelic.

The Phoenix missed a good chance to take the lead in the 65th minute when Diego's header came back off Pellegrino at the far post.

And it was the visitors who turned up the heat with Sterjovski seeing two well-struck shots go wide then Todd Howarth rattling Paston's crossbar before Bertos stepped up to rifle home the winner.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert was delighted to kick-start the season with a win at home.

"We dubbed it D-Day so I guess we kind of put that one behind us. We'll take that result. It was important to get a win and we did," he said.

"But I think we can get better. It was a tricky night, wet pitch. I thought going forward we were good. We created a lot of good chances and I think that department will only increase. It was silly goal (we conceded) but I thought generally we were okay."

His opposite number David Mitchell felt his side had deserved to come away with something for its efforts.

"I thought we played very well and were probably unfortunate to come away with a loss after the way we played," he said.

"We started off well and scored a good goal and were playing some good football. Particularly in the second half I thought we played some good stuff and created many chances and probably should have stuffed a couple of way."

"It's been an open and entertaining game but overall in the second half we dominated proceedings and created more chances."

Wellington Phoenix 2 (Ifill 24, Bertos 85) Perth Glory 1 (Sikora 4) Crowd: 10,024 at Westpac Stadium