Victory's woes compounded by 4-1 Phoenix domination
Wellington Phoenix handed a fourth-consecutive loss to Melbourne Victory, scoring two goals in each half to win 4-1 at WIN Stadium on Wednesday night.
Victory were encouraging in the opening 45 but conceded twice before the break regardles. Tomer Hemed finished a stylish Wellington team move to put his side 1-0 up before David Ball swept home a goal upheld after a VAR investigation for a potential handball from Alex Rufer in the build up.
James McGarry won his individual battle with Callum McManaman down Wellington's left flank by putting together an excellent second-half display, culminating in an assist to Ulises Dávila for Wellington's third.
Clayton Lewis made it 4-0 on 68 minutes, scoring his first A-League goal in a flattening blow to a visiting side with just one win from their previous seven games.
With more than 20 minutes on the clock Wellington were poised with the chance to turn a four-goal lead into an even greater margin, but instead conceded a consolation goal to Elvis Kamsoba, picked out by a delightful ball from Jake Brimmer to prod his shot over Oliver Sail into the back of the net.
And that's how the score remained to the final whistle. Wellington's 4-1 win took Ufuk Talay's side into eighth on the A-League table at full-time, eight points ahead of Victory with just two wins and a draw to their name from 12 fixtures in the 2020/21 campaign.
Victory's bright start to the contest came unstuck on 11 minutes when Hemed finished off a spectacular team move sparked by Reno Piscopo within his defensive half.
The Australia U-23 international plucked the ball out from the sky with a deft touch and proceeded to cut past Nick Ansell on the left wing and pick Ball's run out with a scintillating pass which sent the Englishman running in on goal on the opposite flank.
Ball turned to drive toward the box, then paused to allow Dávila to stream past, playing the ball into his path. Dávila took a touch before feeding the ball to Hemed waiting all alone at the back post to convert a goal crafted by the combined efforts of the four Phoenix players.
Victory were unfortunate to find themselves behind after promising efforts early doors, but the visitors responded well to falling behind. Ambitious attempts to McManaman, Jacob Butterfield and Ben Folami came in quick succession soon after the opening goal - none of which troubled Sail, but the response was an encouraging one nonetheless.
Victory went on to produce one of their better first-half performances, but went into the break two goals down after Ball doubled Wellington's advantage.
It looked as though the goal wouldn't stand after Steven Taylor's header across goal hit the arm of Rufer in the box. In the scramble that ensued Ball slid his shot into the back of the net; the goal underwent a VAR check but the original decision was upheld, putting the hosts up 2-0 in Wollongong.
Victory put their frustrations aside in pursuit of an opener to halve the deficit, and should have scored in first-half stoppage time when Folami found the ball at his feet inside the six-yard box.
His shot was decent, but the glove-work of Sail was better. The Wellington 'keeper showed quick reactions to get to his right and push the close-range shot away, sending his side to the break with a two-goal cushion.
McGarry engaged in a terrific first-half contest with McManaman, but after the break the Phoenix left-back took control of the individual battle to put his team in the drivers seat.
McGarry saw a thunderous strike tipped off the post by Victory 'keeper Matt Acton in the 48th minute before setting Dávila up for Wellington's third just after the hour mark, putting on the afterburners to leave McManaman in his wake and tee up the Mexican's right-footed strike from outside the box which nestled into the far right corner.
Six minutes later Phoenix made it four, scoring in a way which typified Victory's frustration and left the visitors in a world of hurt with more than 20 minutes on the clock.
It was Lewis who finished the move, scoring his first A-League goal after a cut-back pass from Cameron Devlin was blocked by Aaron Anderson as Ball attempted to shoot. But, the loose ball deflected off Anderson's heel and fell into Lewis' path, who shot first-time past Acton to open up a huge advantage.
4-0 up and in cruise control, the Phoenix set about wrapping up the contest with a clean sheet. But Victory found a consolation through Kamsoba, plucked out by a magnificent through ball by Brimmer from deep.
Kamsoba latched onto the ball behind Wellington's defensive line and poked his strike over Sail and into the back of the net, cramping up in the aftermath after stretching to collect the pass.
Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne Victory
Saturday, March 27 2021
Central Coast Stadium
Kick-off: 7.10pm AEDT
Wellington Phoenix v Macarthur FC
Sunday, March 28 2021
Kick-off: 4.05pm AEDT
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