Western Sydney Wanderers have blown the chance to consolidate a spot in the top six after squandering a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw with Wellington Phoenix in Auckland on Saturday.
Goals in each half to Brendon Santalab and Mitch Nichols gave the Wanderers the advantage before two quick-fire strikes to Gui Finkler and Roy Krishna rescued a point for the hosts.
In a free-flowing encounter, Wellington started the brighter but failed to capitalise on their early dominance and were punished with Wanderers striker Brendon Santalab firing the visitors ahead in the 20th minute.
Western Sydney grew in confidence and doubled their advantage early in the second stanza with Mitch Nichols on hand to finish a well-worked team goal.
But in a stunning six-minute period, Wellington pulled a goal back from the spot through Roy Krishna just past the hour mark before Wanderers skipper Dimas missed a penalty less than 90 seconds later.
And it proved costly with Roy Krishna pulling the Phoenix level with a brilliant header shortly after with the Fijian profiting from some excellent work from Adam Parkhouse.
The contest opened up in the final 20 minutes with both sides chasing a winner but neither team was able to capitalise as they were forced to share the spoils.
0-1 Western Sydney Wanderers: Brendon Santalab, 20’
Dimas whipped in a dangerous ball from a corner with Santalab losing his marker before connecting with an acrobatic volley which rifled into the back of the net.
0-2 Western Sydney Wanderers: Mitch Nichols, 56’
Jack Clisby was afforded space on the left flank with the fullback delivering a wicked cross with Nichols ghosting in behind to slot past the onrushing Glen Moss.
1-2 Wellington Phoenix: Gui Finkler (pen), 62’
Roy Krishna was brought down in the area following a clumsy challenge from Jaushua Sotirio with Finkler stepping up to take the responsibility. The Brazilian kept his serve and calmly stroked the ball home past the wrong-footed Jerrad Tyson.
2-2 Wellington Phoenix: Roy Krishna, 68’
Adam Parkhouse tracked down a loose ball inside the box before delivering a teasing cross to the back post with Krishna rising highest to bury a well-taken header.
Leading 2-1, Western Sydney had the chance to extend their advantage from the spot after Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante collected Jaushua Sotirio inside the box. Dimas was handed the ball but the Spaniard’s weak effort was easily smothered by Glen Moss.
Wanderers had a brilliant chance to take a 2-0 lead in the 40th minute with Nico Martinez forcing a brilliant save out of Phoenix keeper Glen Moss. Martinez found space on the edge of the area after a well-worked move before firing a fizzing effort which Moss managed to tip over the bar and out for a corner.
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