A history-making hat-trick from Nathan Burns fired him to the top of the A-League’s Golden Boot standings and gave the Wellington Phoenix a 5-1 victory over Melbourne City in Wellington.
Despite dominating for significant periods in the first half, the visitors found themselves 2-0 down at the break and a quick-fire double after half-time took the game away from them.
Burns’ hat-trick was the first in 194 A-League games for the Phoenix and came courtesy of a twice-taken penalty late in the game to the delight of the Yellow fever faithful.
1-0 (Nathan Burns 33)
A mis-placed back-pass from Erik Paartalu was mis-read by the assistant referee who flagged for offside, but referee Jarred Gillett waved play on, allowing Burns to round Andrew Redmayne and slide the ball into an empty net.
2-0 (Roly Bonevacia 40)
The Dutchman received the ball in the inside left position and drilled a firm left-footed shot inside Redmayne’s far post from a tight angle.
3-0 (Nathan Burns 47)
Close control was the cornerstone of Burns’ second goal as he received the ball, shimmied left and then right to evade a defender and shot right-footed across Redmayne into the far corner.
4-0 (Roy Krishna 50)
The flying Fijian supplied an absolute screamer, cutting in from the left-hand side and shooting superbly into the top right-hand corner before sinking to his knees in celebration and being engulfed by his delighted team-mates. It was also the Phoenix’s 250th A-League goal.
4-1 (David Williams 68 – pen)
Roly Bonevacia brought down James Brown as he danced along the bye-line and Williams fired low and hard to Glen Moss’s right to give Melbourne City the faintest glimmer of hope.
5-1 (Nathan Burns 85 – pen)
Rob Wielaert’s tug on Andrew Durante earned the Phoenix a late spot-kick, which Nathan Burns gleefully converted before being pulled back for penalty-box encroachment by Roly Bonevacia. His second attempt was an even better penalty and put the seal on a wonderful personal performance.
The visitors could so easily have been ahead in the first minute when David Williams sprinted clear down the right and squared a slightly under-hit pass to an unmarked Mate Dugandzic who blazed over from eight yards. How different it might have been had Melbourne City gone 1-0 up so early in the piece.
Opta Data key stats
The Phoenix had just nine shots and scored five goals while Melbourne City had fifteen yet could only score from the penalty spot. City also shaded possession and territory but couldn’t turn that into goals.
Phoenix fans have waited seven-and-a-third long seasons to celebrate a hat-trick and Nathan Burns finally provided it. When his first spot-kick was ruled out for encroachment, there might have been a few nervous moments as he addressed the ball a second time, before he drilled it unerringly into the top corner and sprinted off to celebrate with fans and team-mates alike.
Dugandzic’s early miss was compounded by some more soft defending by Melbourne City as too often Phoenix forwards were given time and space in the penalty area. The nineteen goals his side has now conceded in eight games is a real concern for John van’t Schip.
Phoenix fullback Tom Doyle departed late in the game and has been troubled recently by a niggling injury which may yet stymie his involvement against Newcastle next week.
The Final Word
After seeing the goals dry up somewhat in the last four matches, the Wellington Phoenix produced an emphatic display against a Melbourne City side that has major defensive issues.
Roy Krishna’s combination with Nathan Burns and Michael McGlinchey in the attacking third bore fruit in their first start together and the Fijian will keep his place in the starting side for some time after starting the season well down the striking pecking order. Burns meantime has catapulted himself to the top of the Golden Boot standings and well and truly into the Socceroos frame.
Melbourne City – the pre-season favourites with many bookies – have some major work to do to turn things around. One win in eight and the worst defensive record in the A-League were certainly not predicted when the club was taken over by its rich benefactors.
Wellington Phoenix: Moss, Muscat, Sigmund, Durante, Doyle (Boxall), Riera, Bonevacia (Ridenton), Rodriguez, Krishna (Cunningham), McGlinchey, Burns.
Melbourne City: Redmayne, Archibald (Hoffman), Wielaert, Kisnorbo, Ramsay, Paartalu (Mauk), Melling, Mooy, Duff, Williams, Dugandzic (Brown).
Wellington: Burns 34, 47, 85 (pen), Bonevacia 40, Krishna 50
Melbourne City: Williams 68 (pen)
Red cards: n/a
Yellow cards: Wellington: none; Melbourne City: Melling, Wielaert
Conditions: Fine, 17 degrees