Davila strikes late winner as Phoenix punish Wanderers
Ulises Davila scored a late penalty as Wellington Phoenix beat Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 and condemned Markus Babbel’s side to a fourth straight Hyundai A-League defeat.
Davila stepped up in the 89th-minute after a VAR review revealed a handball by Wanderers midfielder Pirmin Schwegler, and the Mexican netted for a fourth straight match, equalling a club record, to seal Phoenix’s third win in a row.
Jaushua Sotirio, who spent six seasons in Western Sydney before an off-season move across the ditch, had fired his new club into a shock lead three minutes after the interval, after the visitors had controlled the opening stanza at Eden Park in Auckland.
Kiwi number one Stefan Marinovic kept Wellington in contention at the interval with a string of excellent saves from Kwame Yeboah, Nicolai Müller and Matthew Jurman, while opposite number Daniel Lopar’s first touch was to pick the ball out of his own net.
Müller’s first Hyundai A-League goal hauled Markus Babbel’s side back into the game on 64 minutes in a match Wanderers dominated but let their grip slip away late on.
Davila's sixth goal of the Hyundai A-League campaign stretches Phoenix’s unbeaten run at Eden Park to six matches as they rise up to fourth in the ladder, overtaking the free-falling, fifth-placed Wanderers.
Despite their recent results, Western Sydney started like a team in form with Yeboah leading the charge. The striker dragged a powerful effort off target on five minutes, before Marinovic reacted quickest when Yeboah was released through on goal by Mitchell Duke three minutes later.
Phoenix’s sluggish opening continued as Müller found Duke inside the box but the Wanderers captain could only flick his 11th minute-effort wide, and the dynamic German winger forced Marinovic to dive full-length to save his dipping 25-yard strike on 19 minutes.
As half-time drew closer, Tim Payne recorded Phoenix’s first attempt with a tame effort off target, before Jurman saw his header from Pirmin Schwegler’s corner well saved by a diving Marinovic and Wanderers had to settle for 0-0 at the break, despite leading the shot count nine to two.
Within three minutes of the restart, Wanderers were made to pay when Sotirio burst through on goal from David Ball's flick and lobbed Lopar to give Talay's side the lead, but Müller's response, from Daniel Georgevski's marauding run and pass, 16 minutes later brought the Red and Black back into the match.
Western Sydney continued to cut through the Phoenix midfield but struggled to break down their compact backline, while the home side created chance after chance in the closing stages, with Liberato Cacace, substitute Callum McCowatt and Davila all forcing Lopar into superb saves.
Davila finally beat Lopar from the spot in the 89th minute after his strike from the edge of the area was blocked by Schwegler's arm, before Yeboah lashed a good chance over the Wellington crossbar in stoppage time as clock run out on Babbel's side.
Yeboah almost draws first blood
Western Sydney Wanderers made a bright start and Kwame Yeboah almost broke the deadlock after only five minutes.
Nix left-back Liberato Cacace lost the ball up field and the Red and Black countered with Wanderers striker Yeboah driving into acres of space.
The 25-year-old took aim but dragged his effort off target. A warning shot for Wellington.
Marinovic keeps Phoenix in the game
Kiwi number one Stefan Marinovic was showing some inspired form in Auckland.
After charging out to parry the ball away from Yeboah when the Wanderers striker was through on goal, the Nix goalkeeper was called into action again.
This time it was a long-range effort from German attacker Nicolai Müller which Marinovic had to defend, and he did so in style with an athletic one-handed save.
Sotirio comes back to haunt his former club
Just two minutes after the restart, Wellington pounced against the run of play and former Wanderer Sotirio did not hesitate to put one away against his former club.
A long kick from Marinovic was flicked on by David Ball and the 24-year-old speedster added an instinctive finish when clean through on goal.
Sotirio, who spent six years in Western Sydney, made Wellington's first shot on target count.
Müller hits first Hyundai A-League goal to drew Wanderers level
Nicolai Müller showed his quality in front of goal to grab an equaliser for Western Sydney on 64 minutes.
The German attacker collected a stampeding run and pass from Daniel Georgevski and added a precise finish across goal.
It took five passes for Wanderers to get the ball from their own goalkeeper Daniel Lopar to the back of the Phoenix net.
Davila decides it from the spot
Davila netted in his fourth straight match, scoring his fourth penalty of the season, to send Western Sydney to their fourth straight defeat.
The opportunity arose after the Mexican's strike was blocked by the arm of Schwegler. A VAR review spotted the infringement and a penalty was awarded.
The 89th-minute goal proved to be a knock-out blow for Wanderers. Davila joins Jeremy Brockie (2012/13) and Roy Krishna (2014/15) as the only Nix players to score in four games in a row.
Western Sydney Wanderers are travel west to face Perth Glory on Saturday, 14 December. The Round 10 clash, at HBF Park, kicks-off at 5.45pm local, 8.45pm AEDT. Get your tickets here
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