Wellington wins in extra time

Extra-time goals from Paul Ifill and Eugene Dadi have earned the Wellington Phoenix a thrilling 3-1 minor semi-final win over the Newcastle Jets to ensure their dream Hyundai A-League season continues for at least one more week.

Extra-time goals from Paul Ifill and Eugene Dadi have earned the Wellington Phoenix a thrilling 3-1 minor semi-final win over the Newcastle Jets to ensure their dream Hyundai A-League season continues for at least one more week.

Locked 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes after Tim Brown's 33rd-minute effort cancelled out Matt Thompson's opener, the two teams were forced into extra time where Ifill sent the vocal partisan crowd into raptures with his right-footed strike in the dying minutes of the first additional period.

Dadi, a second-half substitute, then sealed the win with a simple tap-in with five minutes remaining.

"I just never lose the belief in these boys," said delighted Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert.

"There is always something they can deliver. The chances were coming our way. Paul probably had a real gift to finish it off with three seconds to go and he didn't but I just think psychologically we were there."

Despite the disappointment of bowing out, Jets coach Branko Culina was full of praise for his players' efforts.

"It was a smashing effort by the players. We were under-manned. We had players who could barely walk let alone run. But they stuck it out," he said.

"We gave them a run for their money and if we'd taken our chances early on it would have been a different ball game."

"But it wasn't to be and congratulations to Wellington."

The victory stretched Wellington's unbeaten run at Westpac Stadium to 19 games and came on the back of a disrupted build-up with Leo Bertos, Ben Sigmund, Tim Brown and Tony Lochhead all backing up from New Zealand's World Cup warm-up match against Mexico in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The Phoenix will now cross the Tasman to face either Melbourne or Sydney for a place in the grand final.

The Phoenix almost got off to the perfect start when Sigmund, in for the suspended Jon McKain, was given time and space to get on the end of a Bertos corner in the opening minute only to see Ali Abbas clear his effort off the line.

After their defensive effort against Gold Coast, Jets coach Branko Culina stated his side would be looking to attack the Phoenix from the start but it was the hosts who dominated the first 15 minutes.

But despite winning several corners they were unable to make them count with Brown heading well wide then Newcastle goalkeeper Ben Kennedy punching another Bertos ball clear.

Brown was full of running despite the arduous trip to Los Angeles and he made a great surge to the edge of the box but was pushed off the ball by Ben Kantarovski, who produced a solid display in defence, and despite appeals for a penalty referee Chris Beath waved play on and the Jets cleared the danger.

Phoenix keeper Liam Reddy was called into action for the first time in the 19th minute to punch clear a dangerous ball in by Abbas, who threatened almost every time he got the ball.

Then the visitors stunned the record crowd of 32,792 by taking the lead through their captain Thompson.

Sigmund cleared the initial throw-in but only as far as Jobe Wheelhouse who headed a looping ball back into the box.

Thompson took one touch then rifled it past Reddy.

Two minutes later and Manny Muscat had a golden opportunity to score his first goal for the Phoenix but the Maltese international blasted it straight at Kennedy.

The equaliser finally came in the 33rd minute and was a result of some dogged work by striker Chris Greenacre who managed to curl the ball past Ljubo Milicevic.

Ifill's shot came back off Nikolai Topor-Stanley, the English import chested it down and squared it to Brown who fired home his eighth of the season.

The midfielder had the chance for a second with just over five minutes of the half remaining but headed wide.

However, it was the Jets who spurned a glorious chance of a half-time lead when Tarek Elrich - in a one-on-one with the keeper - had his strike easily smothered by Reddy.

The match continued at its lively pace in the second spell as well.

In the 53rd minute the Phoenix defence was opened up as Abbas made another good run down the flank and into the box before squaring the ball to an on-rushing Thompson but his first touch let him down and a simple tap-in went begging.

At the other end Bertos fired in a pinpoint cross in front of goal but neither Vince Lia nor Greenacre could get on the end of it.

Elrich then had Kennedy to thank for sparing his blushes just over 15 minutes into the second period when the defender attempted to head the ball clear, forcing a fingertip save from his keeper to prevent an own goal.

The Phoenix kept up the pressure on the Jets goal but Greenacre, Ifill and Daniel, who came on for Bertos in the 66th minute, were unable to find the target.

A good strong challenge by Durante on Thompson in the box halted another promising breakout by the Jets.

In a frantic finish, play went from end to end as both teams tried desperately for the winner with Jets substitute Mirjan Pavlovic and Ifill wasting the best two chances to seal victory for their respective sides.

Ifill made no mistake at the end of the first period of extra time though, unleashing a vicious right-footed shot past the despairing Kennedy before Dadi's effort killed off any chances of a Jets comeback.