A brace from Brendon Santalab has inspired Western Sydney Wanderers to an impressive 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix in New Plymouth on Saturday night.
The Wanderers started the brighter and took a deserved lead midway through the first half with Santalab firing home after neat buildup from Nico Martinez.
Wellington settled into the contest as the game progressed and went close early in the second stanza with Shane Smeltz forcing Vedran Janjetovic into a smart save on the turn.
But goals to Nico Martinez and a second from Santalab in a seven-minute blitz all but sealed the result for the visitors, with Smeltz netting a consolation for Wellington from the spot with 20 minutes remaining.
A red card to Smeltz for a second bookable offence with 15 minutes left killed off any chance of a comeback as the Wanderers held on for a deserved victory.
0-1: Western Sydney Wanderers, Brendon Santalab, 22’
Playmaker Nico Martinez embarked on a surging run through the heart of the Phoenix defence before slipping Santalab in behind, with the striker firing home underneath the outstretched Glen Moss.
0-2: Western Sydney Wanderers: Nico Martinez, 58’
Terry Antonis pounced on a loose ball before playing a through ball for Santalab, with the 35-year-old expertly cutting the ball back for Martinez to slot from close range.
0-3: Western Sydney Wanderers: Brendon Santalab, 65’
Antonis was played into the area before shpwing great composure to pick out Santalab in the area, with the veteran attacker blasting home through a crowd of bodies.
1-3: Wellington Phoenix: Shane Smeltz, 71’
The hosts were awarded a penalty following a handball from Kearyn Baccus and Shane Smeltz made no mistake from the spot, sending Vedran Janjetovic the wrong way from 12 yards.
Phoenix striker Shane Smeltz was shown his marching orders with just under 15 minutes remaining after being shown a second yellow card for a foul on Jack Clisby.
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