Record-breaking home crowd flocks to watch Phoenix dazzle in 3-0 win over Western United
Wellington Phoenix put on a performance to savour in the club's first game on home soil in 433 days, dismantling Western United in a 3-0 victory at Sky Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
A record-breaking home crowd of 24,105 packed the stands in Wellington to see their side in action and the 'Nix didn't disappoint, taking a one-goal lead to half-time before adding a further two goals to the scorecard in the second 45.
Clayton Lewis was the opening scorer, benefiting off a deflection off United defender Brendan Hamill to break the deadlock after the visiting side put on a resolute first-half showing in the face of incessant Phoenix pressure.
A ten-minute blitz in the second half sealed the points for the Phoenix. Reno Piscopo hammered his 57th-minute strike into the top corner before Tomer Hemed put a simple finish to a well-placed Louis Fenton cross six minutes later to get the home crowd rocking at Sky Stadium.
The occasion offered the patient home fans the chance to see their side in action for the first time since March, 2020 - but it also provided the players the opportunity to get the three points needed to stay within reach of the top six.
Wellington are now three points behind Brisbane Roar in sixth heading into their final three games of the 2020/21 campaign.
Wellington dominated the chances and possession throughout the first half as the vibrant home crowd encouraged their side to get on top of their opponents at Sky Stadium.
United crafted a pair of opportunities through the opening ten minutes, with Dylan Pierias testing Oliver Sail with a driven shot from outside the box before Alessandro Diamanti tried his luck from range with an audacious lob, which Sail got bak to collect on his goal line.
The Phoenix ramped up the pressure on the visitors from that moment on, camping outside of United's box for the majority of the first half. Hemed got the crowd rocking with an attempt from distance which goalkeeper Ryan Scott poked out for a corner, before Ben Waine headed over the bar on 12 minutes with a dangerous ball whipped toward the front post off the left wing.
A Cameron Devlin turnover sent Hemed driving toward goal in the 21st minute, and his resulting shot took a deflection off United defender Brendan Hamill. Scott scrambled over to concede another Phoenix corner as Hemed beckoned the home crowd to make some noise at Sky Stadium.
A rare foray forward from United saw Pierias create a half-chance on 33 minutes with a half-volley struck from outside the box after a Diamanti corner which missed the mark - Piscopo created a similar threat down the other end which ended in the same nature after Andrew Durante cleared from a corner situation directly into the path of the Phoenix creator on the edge of the box.
In the 38th minute the 'Nix finally found an opener, which had been coming throughout an impressive first-half showing.
Making his home debut for the club in his 23rd Wellington appearance, it was Lewis who found the back of the net with a shot on goal which deflected off the chest of Hamill to wrong-foot Scott and creep over the line.
The Phoenix emerged from the half-time break intent on putting on a show for the record-breaking crowd, and by the 63rd minute the home side had broken the game apart by forging a three-goal lead at Sky Stadium.
Piscopo put Wellington two goals ahead with a thumping shot off a determined run into the box. Scott got a glove on the attempt struck off the left-hand side of the 18-yard box but the force behind the shot proved too much to handle as the United gloveman pushed the ball further into the top corner of goal.
Wellington fed off the noise emanating from the stands and set off in pursuit of a third.
Waine called Scott into a strong save down low to his right and Piscopo threatened once again with a curling shot which was tipped over the bar before United succumbed to the relentless wave of pressure as Hemed arrived on the scene to head home a Louis Fenton cross into the six-yard box which ripped the lid off the Cake Tin.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Wellington Phoenix
Wednesday, May 26 2021
Kick-off 7.05pm AEST
Western United v Melbourne Victory
Friday, May 28 2021
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST
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